I’m on my bike the last two days and today and tomorrow riding to the borders of Ohio, thinking about lives worth choosing, reading my Kindle and smoking when I stop, hoping that I don’t have to make any repairs, but envying those who can. Here is Matthew B. Crawford in today’s NYT Magazine praising such work.
What Crawford writes about such workers someone who really knows what he is doing, losing himself in work that is genuinely useful and has a certain integrity to it. I think of the mothers I know who stay home with their children. Especially the housework part. It takes great skill to make a house hum with comfort on very limited budget. You have customers you must please. There is satisfaction in doing the job well and pleasing the customers. There is nothing like raising children to make you know your own fallibility.
Which is the other aspect of the job. Children are more complicated than motorcycles and require more complex analysis -- we cannot take them apart to see why something is not working. However, in the simple matters, like what to do about diaper rash or how to teach basic mathematics, rules apply, but do not always work. You have to figure things out and getting those things right is very important. All of that takes concentration, though you have long periods where you can think great thoughts while doing mundane things. That was a very good career.
Which is not to say I do not enjoy this second career in education. I do, very much. The sense of needing to get things right carries over from my first career to this one. The ethic of paying attention to the complicated person before you, that carries over, too.
I suppose for most people it is more practical to work in an environment like a motorcycle repair shop than to spend the years it takes to raise children. I'm just saying there are parallels.
Saw this article in the NYT mag -- great read!