A couple of days ago I was headed home from the gym. Do you go to the gym? After many years resisting the gym, last summer we joined up again and I’ve been going ever since. My attendance at the gym roughly correlates with my career as a blogger. In fact, when I started blogging last fall, I told Jill that I had to go to the gym to keep my energy up.
I go in the mornings, then head home for breakfast and the start to the day. You start blogging with the idea that you’ll be able to make a living in “2 hours a day” as the saying goes, but that must be at some other, future phase of blogging, because I seem to be working harder than ever.
No complaints, it’s all my choice and, to be honest, I’m loving it. When I go to the gym this past year, I listen to audio recordings I’ve downloaded to my iPhone. I plug in the earbuds, cue up a lesson on something like writing, marketing, or whatever it is that day, get on the elliptical and pedal away. Some days I’ll do the whole “circuit” at the gym afterwards, still plugged into my little portable classroom.
Maybe because of this intense listening, my head gradually fills with ideas of projects I’d like to take on, plans for articles I can write to my blog, the outlines of a new book design I’ve been working on—in short, some kind of work-related material. You get the idea.
I’ve come to realize that other people fill their heads with more emotional thoughts, boyfriends, trips they’re going to take, what they should have said at the party last night, that sort of thing.
In any event, I think about my two businesses: my book design consultancy and my blog. Both of these businesses revolve around digital reality, take place mostly in front of my iMac, and require me to spend most of my time emailing, designing, using social media, writing to my blog, and all the other parts of digital life that occupy so much of our time.
So there I was, driving home to get started on a whole plank of projects swirling around my fevered brain. I approach a house that was being renovated down the hill from us. The contractor had removed the entire front yard, walkway and driveway in order to do some work that looked like it was related to drainage. Now they were getting ready to re-pave the driveway.
Several workers were on site, building wood forms for concrete to be poured into, carrying bits of building materials to and from the house. There were two men doing something odd on the driveway, so I slowed down. Each man held a 4 x 4 upright in their hands. A 4 x 4 is a pretty heavy piece of lumber, about 3-12″ square. These were about six feet long, and each had a short piece of wood attached to the bottom.
The men were using the long wooden posts to hammer the dirt that had been graded for the driveway. Obviously they were tamping it down to compact the earth and make it a better foundation for the rest of the driveway that would be built on top of it.
I continued on my way, but something kept nagging at me from this scene. Just a few yards from my office, my digital, wired-in, cloud-computing, podcasting, Skype-ing life, where I was “plugged in” almost 18 hours a day watching the latest developments in print on demand, digital book readers, the launch of the Apple iPad, there were men making a living hitting the ground with sticks.
It’s not too hard to imagine men, similar men maybe, a hundred years ago, five hundred years ago, one thousand years ago or more, doing pretty much the same thing. In indigineous cultures houses are often build on “rammed earth” floors, which are hardened basically by pounding. Let’s face it, the technology has been around for quite a while.
You don’t have to look far to find incongruency, surprise, contrast in the world. All you have to do is look around. The world is a marvolously strange place, and I suppose I’m glad to be typing this blog post, and not preparing for another day with a big piece of wood in my hand, my feet on the earth, my arms raised, ready to strike again and again to make the earth a bit more hospitable. And I’m grateful, too.