One of my biggest adjustments to “real life” (as an industrial designer) post-college was having to be indoors all day. In fact, I’ve never gotten used to it. So, I tell my sons, and their friends, to think hard about that reality when they choose a career. The fact is, most careers are indeed lived and developed within the confines of a building. But it is not for everyone. I manage. But I do–seriously–aspire to being a letter carrier one day.
There’s a new book getting a lot of attention for a similar reason. It’s called Shop Class as Soulcraft. It’s written by Matthew Crawford, a Ph.D. who used to work in a Washington think tank. It makes a brilliant case for the intrinsic value of skilled work. In the author’s case, he abandoned his fluorescent lights for opening a vintage motorcycle repair shop. Here’s a good summary from the Wall Street Journal:
Physical objects and machines, especially those that need fixing, pose cognitive challenges, Mr. Crawford argues, since they resist the application of explicit rules and require instead the use of a craftsman’s hard-earned “tacit knowledge.” By contrast, he says, many white-collar jobs have been reduced to nearly rote tasks, following elaborately devised systems that leave little room for actual thinking.
Another key point of the book is that most skilled hand work cannot be outsourced overseas. You have to do it on site. Think about that when it comes to individual economic security.
So if I don’t become a letter carrier, someday I will likely be a future Grommet supplier. Working with my hands, probably outdoors. For now, though, I can always eat my lunch outside, with my hands. I can live with that.
*Photo from this blog. The author says he is “testing sword blades for the Orchihi store.” Whatever that is.