I’ve read much over the years about the decline of manufacturing here in the USA and how it hurts our greater economy. I suppose there are many reasons for this decline – labor cost, tax incentives, the cost of health care………etc and frankly I have nothing new to add in regards to these. One thing I seldom hear about is the desire to work with one’s hands. Set aside how much money one can or can’t be made doing it and just for a moment think about the core desire, or lack thereof, to make stuff. Do kids want to grow up and turn wrenches and make things anymore? I’m not a kid and haven’t been for more than a few years now but it feels to me like it’s just not ‘cool’ to make stuff – unless that stuff happens to be money. Now money is a very good thing but what about the pride one has at the end of a long and hard day when they can lean back against the bench and see the fruit of their labors and just feel good about it?
I grew up in a home where dad worked with his hands and made cars work better than they ever had a right to and mom made art to die for. When dad died mom remarried a man who worked with his mind at work during the day and then came home and made the most clever and pragmatic things you can imagine. My grandfather made things, my grandmother made art of all types…….everyone made things and it was highly respected in our family and I never for a moment thought I’d do anything but make things for a living for the rest of my life. I’ve only had one job in my life where I didn’t have something mechanical and substantial to stand back and look at at the end of the day and that was being a snowboard instructor. My product there was different and as much as I liked seeing others ride better because of what I thought them I did miss the process of making stuff with my own two hands and wits and the pride of standing back and looking at it when it was all done.
If I could change anything at this point I’d like to impart the desire of young folks to learn to make stuff and to learn to make it better so that they could experience the feeling I get at the end of the day. I learned from watching my father that working with one’s hands is an honorable way to spend the day, make a living and have a positive impact on the world. Maybe if the pride was there then the recognition from others and money would follow.
This video is something I’ve watched more times than I care to admit and it makes me tear up with emotion and pride every time. The subject has such deep and simple dignity. He has just reason to be proud. He shows that doing the work is its own reward. I want to be this guy when I grow up.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do and share it with others as you can.
Thanks for reading,