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Work as Recreation

By: Everett S

OntspanningFor years I felt as though I never got to do what I “enjoyed” because I was working too much. Even at home on weekends I was always “working” on some project because I didn’t have time to do it during the week while working for someone else. I thought “If I could just have more time I would actually go do something like hike more, camp more, learn guitar, write a book…”. I was wrong. I have had more time. And instead of suddenly having time to do all of these great things I always told myself I didn’t have time to do, I spent even more time doing “projects” around the property.

One day it finally occurred to me that I wasn’t doing these projects because I “had” to, but because I wanted to. If I didn’t “want” to I would just work a high-paying job in the city and pay someone else to do it so I could spend my free time – hiking, camping, learning guitar and writing a book instead of pulling weeds and fixing outbuildings. Now instead of viewing a weekend of cleaning chimneys, collecting walnuts, splitting and stacking wood, mowing, feeding animals, taking on more baby-duties (and doodoos), painting a building… as “work” I can see what it truly is: Recreation. I was doing exactly what I wanted to do. And just like that I had my enjoyable weekends back, even though I hadn’t changed a thing other than how I chose to perceive my activities.

Then it occurred to me that perhaps a lot of people are like that. Perhaps it is part of being a human, something etched into our DNA. Have you ever noticed our consumptious behaviors as a society often have to do with filling our lives with “work”? How many hours does a guy spend on his boat Vs time spent hauling it around, cleaning it, maintaining it… My brother spends more time fixing and polishing his shiny motorcycle than he does riding it.

Is this just a “guy” thing, or a human thing?

Would we fill our lives with “stuff” for use in recreation if we were still living lifestyles that required our time to be filled with “activities” around the house? And would that be any more or less enjoyable?

Don’t get me wrong: Floating down the creek with a beer in my hand, siting in an inner-tube on a sunny Summer day is probably always going to be more enjoyable for me than feeding brush into a wood-chipper for three hours. But I do think we are hard-wired for work (how else could we have survived this long?); That we often confuse work with recreation and vice versa; and that the need to “take care of” our toys has almost as much influence on our buying behaviors as the need to play with them.

This post was written over lunch as I thought about what project I was going to “get” to do when I got off the clock. I think I’ll choose that wood chipper idea so I’ll have some mulch for the blueberries when I prune them on my next opportunity to “work” on a homestead project. Creative Commons License photo credit: d_vdm

Category: Simple Thoughts, The Transplants

Comments (5)

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  1. EcoCatLady says:

    Yes, Yes, YES!!! A few years back I stopped saying that I was “working” in my yard, and started saying that I was “playing” in my garden. Same thing goes for cooking… I’m not working, I’m playing in the kitchen.

    Not sure why, but just using different language totally validated that these are things I really do enjoy. Sometimes I guess I need a reminder that I could be sitting at a desk somewhere wearing high heels and panty hose and playing office politics… none of which I consider even tolerable, let alone fun!

  2. Celina says:

    Congratulations! You’ve just found another key to happiness and a lil more inner peace. People walk around begrudging everything these days, which in turn makes for some miserable people. Our minds are powerful things! Change a mindset, change your life. Easy peasy huh? (ps I love reading about your adventures with your family. I wish you all the best! You’re doing a good thing!)

  3. Jaime says:

    Your post certainly resonated with me. Don’t worry, it’s not just a guy thing. I’m a girl that can’t seem to stop working. I’m hardwired for work. But I like that idea of reframing it into a positive thing. I’m going to have to try that.

  4. Melanie says:

    I love “playing” in my garden, too! I also find that working in the yard just makes me feel good in so many ways, plus it’s great exercise. And after doing your “workout” you can step back and enjoy what you’ve created.

  5. Jayne says:

    Hey Everett – you are SO RIGHT.
    I gave up club seats to see the Bengals football game yesterday all because I decided it was TOO NICE to go to the game. . . I needed and WANTED to create a renewal in my soul and body through “working” my garden & all the tasks and toils that make me closer to the land.
    I didn’t quite think anyone would understand that, but I had a wonderful day – AND the Bengals won without me!
    Jayne

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