Matthew Crawford’s observations on the nature of work, notably manual labor, struck me as extremely valuable. Per Crawford:
“Many of us do work that feels more surreal than real. Working in an office, you often find it difficult to see any tangible result from your efforts. What exactly have you accomplished at the end of any given day? “
His essay explores the rewards/fulfillment of working with one’s hands, and rightly notes that many “knowledge workers” (myself sometimes included) are often denied a real sense of gratification or creativity.
“Ultimately it is enlightened self-interest… that will compel us to take a fresh look at the trades… For anyone who feels ill-suited by disposition to spend his days sitting in an office, the question of what a good job looks like is now wide open.”
Not to mention, Crawford notes, that many jobs such as his – repairing motorcycles – simply can’t be outsourced. He might over-romanticize some of the truly dirty work that is performed but his essay and hopefully his book Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work asks some powerful questions.
Do you feel accomplished at the end of a long day sitting in front of the computer or in meetings?