A little hard work is supposed to be good for the soul, right? My younger brother has apparently taken the condition of my soul to heart, then, because he asked for my help Saturday to put up a fence around his backyard.
As you can probably guess, when it comes to doing any task that requires a significant investment of physical labor, I’m a big fan of sitting at a computer and typing instead. But I figured that lounging around on the couch in my smiley-face boxers and watching the entire collected works of Val Kilmer—including Top Secret! and Real Genius, of course—probably wouldn’t be the most selfless act I’ve ever committed. So I put on a baseball cap and headed for my brother’s house at an hour of the morning that civilized people don’t consider quite proper.
Well, truth be told, it was 9 AM, which I guess maybe only civilized software people balk at. But it was still earlier than I wanted to be leaving my house on a Saturday morning to go dig holes in otherwise perfectly good dirt.
Not that I’m sure there is a time I want to go dig holes, but that’s besides the point.
Of course, in this part of the country, there isn’t any actual dirt. Not in a “soil” kind of sense. Nope, around here there’s clay and there’s rock, and generally more of the latter. Much more. Enough to make you question the existence of a benevolent higher power when the primary task of the day is to set 4×4 wooden posts into holes where all those rock previously existed. Sci-Fi conventions don’t have as many people covered in lime green makeup as the number of rocks we pulled out of the ground.
Over seven hours my two brothers and I and a few other guys set 48 posts with a post-hole digger and a spud-bar—basically, a long, heavy steel spike—an implement with little other purpose but to break up stone things. By the time I got home, I was all kinds of exhausted.
That’s okay, though. Because, as much as I hate to admit it, every now and then the application of physical labor in one’s life actually is sort of therapeutic. Even though I ended up with a sore back, angry shoulders, and a farmer’s
tan burn that even Old MacDonald would be ashamed of, we accomplished the task at hand in excellent spirits. And more importantly, we made each other laugh throughout the day, sometimes so hard we had to stop working and catch our breath.
So maybe doing some physical labor every now and then isn’t the worst thing ever. You know, occasionally.
Once every decade or so.
My soul is probably good for a while, though.