Greetings my lovely readers, from snowy Minnesota!
Today is a day to talk about jobs. I’m not talking about the “I-aspire-to-work-in-a-skyscraper-so-I-can-make-the-big-bucks” kind of job. No, I mean the physical and manual labor jobs that most of us were threatened with as kids when we didn’t want to finish our homework.
“Now little Johnny, you better finish your homework so you can do well in school this year. You don’t want to end up being a [insert manual labor job here] when you grow up. Do you?”
Well, what I want to know is when did we all become so afraid of physical work? Actually, I must admit that I kind of borrowed this idea from Mike Rowe, host of “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel. Ever seen it?
I’ve long been a fan of this show (thanks to my husband) because it’s doesn’t glamorize or “sex-up” dirty jobs, but it gives an honest look at necessary jobs people do everyday. While watching a YouTube video of a speech Rowe gave to a group of Silicon Valley execs (think Google, Cisco, and Apple), this phrase really jumped out at me, ““We’ve declared war on work. As a society. All of us…”
You can watch the full clip here; I warn you – it is over 20 minutes long, but worth watching.
Anyhow, basically Rowe explains that we need these people and we need to quit marginalizing them. We also need to start valuing work again and ditch the mentality that we would be much happier if we just had a little more money, more time off, or an easier job. In reality, it’s more about attitude. He even goes on to say, “People with dirty jobs are happier than you think…As a group, they’re the happiest people I know.”
I feel I’m in a unique position to look at this issue because I have a 9-5 office job, and I also put in many hours on our farm. I know what Rowe is talking about when he says that people with dirty jobs can be happy. Completing a difficult, physical task gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose that is hard to duplicate. You also don’t have some of the stresses that come with corporate politics or “climbing the ladder.” I certainly don’t think it’s bad to work in an office, but I also see the merits of physical work and not being afraid of a “dirty job” per se. Lots of things we do on the farm, like spread manure on the fields and trim hooves on cows, have even been featured on “Dirty Jobs.”
I also don’t think dirty jobs mean you can’t be prosperous or educated. Not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but you may be surprised to learn that both my husband and I have four-year college degrees. Both of my husband’s parents are also university grads, and his great-grandpa earned a teaching certificate. None of us are lawyers or doctors. All have been farmers (on the same site we farm today) and his great-grandpa taught and farmed. All these generations believed in the value of education, and knew that managing the work, the finances and the business of a farm well is not an easy task.
I’ve been waiting for the right post to share this link, and I think now’s the time. I belong to an organization called American Agri-Women, and one day they emailed out a very poignant blog post from a lady named Ann Voskamp. The line the struck me the most of all her words was:
The quote above links to the whole post, and I definitely recommend that you read her thoughts on the people who “bring food to our table.” Like Ann, I just refuse to believe that working the land and caring for animals isn’t worthy work – even though I also had teachers growing up that belittled agricultural aspirations.
While I’m posting links, I may as well add another good one to the bundle. A blog I’ve started following, written by none other than a farm wife, puts a whole new take on the issue of work and exercise when she talks about The Secret to Weight Loss – Farmer Style. When I read this post a few days ago I thought it would fit right in.
As the post says, exercise and improved general health for many people is really just about moving around more. I’m no expert on this, but I know I’ve read and heard that moderate levels of physical exertion are generally as good for you as any 20 minutes on the treadmill, for example. (And this coming from a dedicated runner :))
I don’t really know what to say next, so I think I’m about ready to wrap up. I want to assure you that I think everything from administrative work, to retail, to education, to medicine (and more) is important to our economy and our world. I don’t write any of this to beat up on other jobs. I mainly write this to remind people that dirty jobs can be noble and there is a lot value in physical labor. Besides, if you did manual labor all day, you wouldn’t have to scramble to fit in any gym workouts you didn’t want to 🙂
Care to discuss? Do you think I’m dead wrong? Have any new thoughts or stories to share on the subject of work in general?