Even the “bad jobs” I have had over the years have taught me something about myself and about life. When I was a spot welder and came home each day exhausted, burnt and bruised, I learned what hard work really was and I was proud of what I had built. I used to dig little bit of metal out of my belly that got there when a spray of white metal picked me instead of spraying 40′ across the factory floor. I have seen (and felt) copper so hot it turned shades of purple and green. I’ve worked 42 days straight doing manual labor and the first two weeks of that were over 12-16 hours per day. I’ve sweated so hard that even though I drank several bottles of water, I didn’t need to urinate. In some ways it was hell and yet part of me loved it. I knew I was a man (or closer to that goal). A job like that is like a merit badge you wear on the inside.
These days, some Mondays are definitely less welcomed than others, but to work is a blessing (especially in this economy!). I may complain about work sometimes but deep down it is honorable and satisfying. As an aspiring gentleman I try to keep this perspective and avoid the trendy complaining cycle on Facebook. The men I most admire would never say something like “ugh, it’s a Monday.” We all feel that way sometimes, I suppose. But it seems like people who are enjoying life complain–if they complain at all–about how little time their is to do the work they have picked. The don’t complain about having to work.
The idea of being a gentleman can seem a little nebulous sometimes. We may have a mental picture of a man in a three piece suit and a monocle sipping a tea. In practice, being a gentleman it is more like a thousand little decisions, not owning a pocket watch or twirling our moustache. So, here is the approach I am working on: I am challenging myself to protect my mindset against petty resentment toward the gift of work. I will apply myself and think in bigger increments than a week at a time. To check my progress I remember that I am choosing to become the man I want my son to think I already am.
Who is with me?