My father’s visiting, and I have essentially shut the office until next week.
He’s 84, but looks twenty years younger, and has more energy than I do. Dances twice a week, bowls in leagues, travels the world. (Last couple of trips: Australia, China, Alaska…)
Took him a while, back when I was struggling to find my place in the world, to understand what kind of son he was dealing with here. Pop worked hard his entire life — a foreman in a construction crew that put up most of the big buildings in and around Los Angeles from the 1940s through the early 1980s. He would grab a few hours sleep at night, leave before dawn, slam around hammers and machinery and materials for eight hours, and come home.
A true stud, but a dedicated father.
And then I came along — a kid who drew cartoons and logged hours writing stories. Hard physical labor just mortified me. I knew, as a small kid, that I did not want to work like that for a living. However, most of the jobs I had were exactly like that, until I busted into advertising as a color-blind commercial artist with minimal design skills.
Still, it was working at a desk, and taxing my brain. I enjoyed it.
Anyway, Pop always likes me to have a project for him and I to do when he visits. You know — reroof the house, dig out a basement, that sort of thing.
We’re futzing with the landscape irrigation, actually. And you know what? I love the physical part of the labor. I miss getting dirty, sometimes. (I do get dusty when I write, but that’s only because I never vacuum my office.)
I’ve purged a lot of anxiety these past two days, through sweat and real toil. Not working out in the gym, which is my usual method. But getting filthy in the yard, hauling pipe and finessing fittings.
Not sure what the lesson here is. I just feel… better for the work.
And there’s something pleasing in figuring out how to solve the problems — I was killing the grass because the watering system had broken down. Now, it’s fixed. I’m a proud homeowner again.
I’ll be back with something meatier next week.
In the meantime… go get dirty.