It used to be that once we had started a job, we would work like hell to finish it. It seemed like a good work ethic. As we got older and stupider, of course, we would have to work longer and longer to get the job done because we were getting slower and slower in the doing. But that is what we’d do – we’d work longer.
And that was just when we lived in the cul de sac.
Of course, all hell broke loose in the labour sector when we started this off-the-grid living project. We had to learn how to do construction and at such a late age. And we jumped in at the deep end. Ooooh….that meant working even harder and longer!
When we began a-building we would ‘get at it’ and go like mad til we couldn’t go any longer. I remember many evenings falling asleep after dinner at 7:30pm. Again, that seemed like a good work ethic and the way to get all the jobs done. But that grew old. And it grew older than I was growing old and I was approaching ‘old’ pretty quickly. We started to build this place when I was 55 and I am still at it ten years later.
After the first year, I was pretty much ‘toast’ and Sal remarked that I was just wandering around near the end of that first season in a daze.
“I would just point you in the direction of the next job and tell you what it was and you would just go do it until I stopped you for a glass of water or something. It was like you were on some kind of dumb auto-pilot or something.”
And so, slowly but surely, we learned how to work differently. We had to. Now we work til we are tired and then we quit. It makes no difference if the job is done, half done or not yet even much started. The time of day is not a factor. I start when I want and I quit when I want.
“I’ll get to it when I get to it.”
At first there was a little lost pride, a smidge less macho on display. I was not doing the manly thing so much as the reasonable (read: comfortable) thing. But that feeling was mostly due to the ol’ Energizer Bunny (aka, Sally). She still went at things like a dynamo even tho I had slowed to a crawl. She simply set the bar too high for me to match. So, I would stop and rest before she did. I would quit for the day while she carried on. I would pour wine and sit on the deck and watch her while she ‘finished up’.
Surprisingly, the guilt over that quickly evaporated. If there ever was any…?
This year, the ol’ Bunny is following suit. Now, when I want to quit, we both head for the chairs. I am still first to sit, tho. Sal still has a streak of ‘finish what you start’ but even that now has limits. She’ll finish up if finishing up is an extra ten or fifteen minutes. If it is half an hour or more, it is a job for tomorrow.
Strangely, this pacing is a skill of sorts. We have neighbours who still go at it til they drop and they are the same age as us. They push and they push and they do get more done. On any one day. And it is good. I kind of envy their reserves of energy. But, really? Not a helluva lot more gets done overall It is not like I am building a shed and they are building high rises. And none of us are making wages or working to a schedule! We are still similar in our outputs – I am just a bit slower. Takes a few extra days. OK, weeks.
In the giant scheme of things, does it matter?
Blasphemy. That kind of thinking (putting it off) was blasphemy when we were younger. Now I see it as wisdom. Like stopping to smell the roses?
I guess we are just getting smarter then, eh?