Monday, September 01, 2014

Labor Day 2014: In Praise of Messiness

Let's carve out a small moment to recognize and perhaps be grateful for the opportunity we each have to make a difference.

In honor of Labor Day 2014, let's praise the result of busy productive lives: everything's messy: our desks are messy, our homes are messy, our gardens are messy and our lives are messy.

Frankly, who has time to keep anything neat when it takes 12 hours a day of productive work just to keep the rolling ball of chaos (my description of my own life) more or less together? In It Doesn't Take Much Land to Grow A Lot of Food, I noted: "our garden is as messy as the rest of my life":

This line struck a chord with chef/farmer/very productive person Nancy Falster (, whose email resonated with me: yes, this is exactly how it is for those of us with too much to do every hour, every day, every week, every month and every year:

Thank you for your refreshing honesty.

I have been beating myself up as has my husband because we can’t seem to get the messes cleaned up AND farm on our small family farm in East Texas.

My desk is messy too and there is clean laundry waiting patiently to be ironed. Karl is past his stretching point and we both feel trapped at times, trying to educate folks about eating, growing and supporting real food.

Lard is melting on my stove ready to can and store, cheese is draining in the press, a few more hours before the first turning…

I’m on my way out to feed and water for the night, pigs, cows, chickens, ducks, guineas , horses and the cats all waiting.

My husband is away for another day on a family 90th birthday surprise and I’ve got to go pick up more freshly butchered and packed Cochon de Lait Cru (pastured, milk fed pork) 78 miles away in the morning, after chores of course. AND watering my messy garden!

We have a project in hand here on the farm to help veterans that need to regain their footing and learn a skill that will bring them health, food and a lifelong trade- farming = learning to grow food, plant and animal, and how to care for the land- heal the man while farming the land:

I was thinking we may not be qualified after all if we can’t keep the weeds out and our farm kept as a show place, it is just the two of us and we pretty much work all the time. 6:30 am to 9:30 pm are regular days with 'overtime' even longer.

Your words reminded me what we are doing is important plus we eat GREAT Food. As a nutrient-dense chef, I enjoy using the wonderful food in meals I make as we “raise food fit to eat”.
Your words are a great source of encouragement.

Thank you, Nancy, for reminding me that what's important is that we each have the opportunity to make a positive difference in our own and others' lives, health, work and understanding.

I have occasionally commented on the great divide in our culture between those with far too much to do and those with very little to do. For those with too much to do, time is always scarce; for those with little to do, each day is an exercise in killing time.

Given this great gulf, it is ironic that those who are shouldering the greatest burdens are prone to feeling guilty that their material lives are messy.

Labor Day is supposed to honor work, and much of the day's commentary is related to the politicization of work and the economics of work. That's all well and good, but let's carve out a small moment to recognize and perhaps be grateful for the opportunity we each have to make a difference in our own lives and the lives of those around us by being productive, not sporadically or when ordered to do so by a boss, but in fulfillment of our our own goals and purposes.

Work is not just about getting paid or securing a pension. What a diminished view of labor, to devote so much attention to compensation, when the security we pursue is far more contingent than we're told:

"There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity." (Douglas MacArthur)

Work is what we do every day:

"We are what we repeatedly do." (Aristotle)

Work means doing the task, the thing, getting it done:

"Do the thing and you shall have the power." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Work requires risk:

"He who will not risk cannot win." (John Paul Jones)

Work requires variation, instability, failure and experimentation:

"Progress is not possible without deviation." (Frank Zappa, via Richard Metzger)

Work requires planning, execution and accountability:

"Victory favors those who take pains." (amat victoria curam)

A messy garden and library are worth so much more than a lifeless expanse of concrete or a neat house devoid of books, magazines and knowledge:

"The man who has a garden and a library has everything." (Cicero, via Lee Bentley)

Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy(Kindle, $9.95)(print, $20)
go to Kindle edition
Are you like me? Ever since my first summer job decades ago, I've been chasing financial security. Not win-the-lottery, Bill Gates riches (although it would be nice!), but simply a feeling of financial control. I want my financial worries to if not disappear at least be manageable and comprehensible.

And like most of you, the way I've moved toward my goal has always hinged not just on having a job but a career.

You don't have to be a financial blogger to know that "having a job" and "having a career" do not mean the same thing today as they did when I first started swinging a hammer for a paycheck.

Even the basic concept "getting a job" has changed so radically that jobs--getting and keeping them, and the perceived lack of them--is the number one financial topic among friends, family and for that matter, complete strangers.

So I sat down and wrote this book: Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.

It details everything I've verified about employment and the economy, and lays out an action plan to get you employed.

I am proud of this book. It is the culmination of both my practical work experiences and my financial analysis, and it is a useful, practical, and clarifying read.

Test drive the first section and see for yourself.     Kindle, $9.95     print, $20

"I want to thank you for creating your book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy. It is rare to find a person with a mind like yours, who can take a holistic systems view of things without being captured by specific perspectives or agendas. Your contribution to humanity is much appreciated."
Laura Y.

Gordon Long and I discuss The New Nature of Work: Jobs, Occupations & Careers(25 minutes, YouTube) 

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