Stone work rocks
Since quitting my full-time job, I’ve done some work as a stone mason’s laborer. In terms of complexity, it is pretty much the opposite of social work. When presented with a task, I don’t spend much time brainstorming potential interventions, because the maneuvering of rocks is very different from the maneuvering of humans.
There is another significant distinction between labor and social work (besides the pronounced increase in one’s muscle mass, which I don’t remember happening at any previous jobs). At the end of the day, I can look around the worksite and think, Ah, yes. That’s why I’m so tired. Seeing the tangible results of one’s efforts is a luxury rarely afforded in the social work field, and it is really damn satisfying.
Plus I get to wear knee pads and look super glamorous.
Here are my most common tasks as a laborer:
- Help big rocks get from here to there (aka “pick up heavy things and put them back down again”)
- Transport gravel, road bond, and rock dust along precarious terrain (there are some really hilly yards in the Appalachians)
- Dig trenches
- Bash my shins with the wheelbarrow (this happens far too often)
Beyond all of that, in terms of stone work, I refer to myself as “skill-free,” because anything that requires three-dimensional thinking causes my brain to panic and fall into a weakness. My stone mason boss, on the other hand, is chock-full of skills. She can examine a huge stack of rocks, choose one that doesn’t look (to me) like it will work for her purposes at all, then grind, chisel, and manipulate the crap out of it until it has become the perfect puzzle piece. To skill-free me, her abilities border on miraculous.
Whenever skill is required, I just don protective gear & take selfies.
What I’ve realized over the past several months is that my boss has a guiding vision. This is true not only in terms of her stone work, but also in terms of her life. While she earned a degree in counseling and held a job in that field for a brief time, she soon realized that career was incompatible with her temperament, so she ventured back out into the world to discover her true path. After years of exploration, she and stone masonry found one another.
That kind of decision-making takes courage. It relies on an individual trusting her own personal, guiding vision, rather than succumbing to inertia, guilt, or the ominous (though usually well-intentioned) warnings of others. And while I strive to live my life that way as well, sometimes I get bowled over by a tsunami of self-doubt. This happened a couple of weeks ago, and my tsunami-thrashed brain reacted by spewing out a detailed commentary on my MANY delusions around writing – not only in terms of self-publishing Aret, but also in regards to my decision to write at all.
With my thoughts floundering in this deluge of doom and gloom, I glanced down and saw a bottle cap on the ground. While I entertained myself with the usual fantasy about chopping off all litterers’ heads with an enormous scythe, I bent down to pick it up, then read these words.
It’s funny how often a little thing (literally, in this case) can make a big difference. Thank you, oh wise and wonderful bottle cap. You reminded me to trust my own guiding vision, even in the face of a tsunami smackdown.
[I believe this is the only time I’ve ever encountered helpful litter. That does not, however, change my feelings about litterers. I say bring on the scythe.]