I came across this great article which articulates a spiritual storm front that has been gathering up inside me over the last few weeks. At mid life I have become a pretty decent knowledge worker. I am the product of an education system that has groomed me to succeed in the cube farms of the world and, praise God, I have done pretty well in that environment. At least good enough to support my family pretty well.
But lately I have been lamenting the fact that I have missed out somehow on the opportunity for balance — knowing the satisfaction of being able to accomplish things with my mind and my hands together. Auto parts stores feel like foreign lands to me. Tools and harware mock me from the shelves of the Home Depot. I solve home repair problems with my checkbook.
Problem is that I equate the opportunity cost of the time it would take me to learn how to do something handy with the time it would take me to work at what I know to earn enough to pay somebody to do that same thing for me. The comparison does not make financial sense.
But what I don’t factor in is the value of seeing the effects of my work in the world instead of in conceptual space. The satisfaction of a result I can see. The fruits of my labors. There is spiritual value to be found in that.
And as I round the corner past middle age, I assess what frontiers still lie ahead of me. The world of skills and trades lie unexplored on the map of my life, kind of like Darkest Africa or the Orient to Victorian Era factory worker. As I drive my leaky car around and walk past small holes in my sheet rock or sticking doors I wonder if I will indeed go through the rest of my life feeling helpless in the face of such practicalities.
So here’s my question — how does a forty-something wannabe renassance man find basic instruction in the trades? Are there classes for this kind of thing — general handiness? Or do I teach myself and inflict my education on my own household? Anyone know of a really good book that summarizes the world of “handiness?”