My father, a small town doctor, used to say, “The best cure for insomnia is a good day’s work!” Never one for going to the gym, my dad was nevertheless one of the healthiest and most active people I’ve ever known. He gardened, built furniture, fished, canoed, shoveled snow, raked leaves…you name it…he did it. And he never had a headache or a sleepless night in his life.
Dad believed that activity should have a purpose. Never religious, he nevertheless embraced the protestant work ethic firmly. Do something useful every day, all day and you’ll be too tired to worry about silly things.
I’m a bit like my father. If I’m going for a good long walk – which I do just about every day – I like to have a specific destination in mind. Instead of roaming aimlessly for blocks, my husband and I will grab a backpack and walk to the grocery store to get a few things. Round trip it’s an hour’s walk that we could drive in ten minutes, but it satisfies our need to do something useful while we’re doing something active.
This summer, we did repairs at both our home and cottage. Scraping, prepping wood and later stucco and then painting the whole shebang proved to be a great workout for our bodies and our souls. There’s something very gratifying about working your buns off to prep a wall, then rolling a whole lot of flaw-hiding paint over it.
Sure…we could have hired someone to do it for us and yes, they’d have done a job that would have been as good or perhaps even better than we did…but where would the fun have been in that? As it was, we worked away at the projects together, complimenting (and sometimes criticizing, it must be noted) one another’s work, compared aching muscles at the end of the days and then sharing the same smug (yes….there’s an element of smugness in there!) sense of achievement at the end of it all.
That sense of working hard as a team to achieve something practical was reassuring. It’s good to know that we can still work like Trojans all day – like we did when we set up our first home together and did everything ourselves, from painting to moving the furniture. And like any other team building exercise, it’s good to remember that your partner is a great resource when you need someone to steady the ladder or pass you a smaller roller, please.