Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Good Fences Make for Good Blisters

Today I took the day off to build a wooden fence along portions of my yard still vulnerable to outsiders.

First, my father-in-law and I located my plat survey and gained a sense of the boundaries. Then we uncovered the iron rods strategically inserted between the property lines, running a long string between them that hindered any chance of neighbor encroachment. Once we had the whole place staked out, we were ready to dig and assemble the massive pile of fence sections and posts lying across my suffering driveway.

The posthole digger took some getting used to. I lifted it as high as possible, then pummeled the stubborn St. Augustine grass. It took a few lifts and crashes before the surface began to yield. I wondered how sore I would become by the next day. The journey downward seemed endless, with at least two-and-a-half-feet of depth required to give the posts a fighting chance of holding their own.

After each post was sufficiently planted we added some dirt, water and dry concrete. Then came the fun task of dragging the six-by-eight-foot sections of fence to the posts, and using a power screwdriver to attach them. Along the way adjustments had to be made with hands; hammers; heavy shoes; and, above all, heart.

By sunset we had a fence. Something of tangible accomplishment—meant to keep children and clutter within more than keeping others out, but more or less sufficing in both regards.

Despite the arduous physical labor, the fence construction provided for some peaceful thinking. There is a raw, fresh feeling about digging into the earth; drilling screws; carrying wood; wiping away sweat; and feeling little bugs dancing along my shins. I am not a handyman by nature, but I held my own. I helped to build something you can see, touch and—while the wood remains new—even smell.

I spend most of my professional time building ideas. I help people survey their passions, interests and talents to get a feel for which boundaries to push and which ones to let stand. I help them strategize the best linear path toward assembling a vocation, something sustainable and grounded in reality, opportunity and compensation.

Often, to help them discern the path, I facilitate some significant digging. This can be laborious, for one does not easily puncture the hardened soil of uncertainty. It takes pushing yourself to keep digging down, until you have enough introspection to secure a new direction.

I help others sprinkle and mix a few items across this new sense of understanding, in order that they might activate its potential. These include new relationships and networking opportunities, further training and education, growth experiences gleaned through trial and error. Each helps them continue to design and expand this dynamic called vocation, from which flow tangible accomplishments that can change communities, organization and lives.

A fence is seen, touched and smelled. The products of vocation are not always as readily tangible, but just as real as an assembly of trees snatched from a forest.

Each day opportunities abound to glimpse the fruit of your passionate contributions to humankind. Take a second, catch your breath and muster the energy to dig even deeper—and there you are, building something that will last longer than a zero lot line fence destined for hurricane wrath.


At 1:03 PM , Blogger Marcia Ford said...

So many of us have forgotten how satisfying manual labor can be. I'm not able to do much, but even the little I do just feels good. It's great to see the fruit of your labor at the end of the day--especially when most other days are consumed with ideas, right?

At 4:17 PM , Blogger Margaret Feinberg said...

not the product of a fast-food, microwave nation...
carving, digging, time, energy, work, no shortcuts...
yet worth it all.


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