Lately I’ve been mulling over whether or not I should continue to pursue a possible job opportunity. At first I was enthused; now I’m having second thoughts. I felt anxiety trying to push its way in.
This weekend I realized some relief from the anxiety as I worked outside. Just being outside in nature’s slower-paced rhythm helped, but the motion of walking on the ground also helped me relax as I mowed grass, raked grass clippings, and moved cement bricks.
While thinking about how moving and doing repetitious work helps relax the mind, I remembered reading one of my favorite authors—Don Ian Smith, I believe—who wrote that when he was troubled about a situation, one of the things he fell back on for relief was physical labor. Since he owned a small ranch, physical labor meant shoveling out irrigation ditches, repairing fences, painting, etc. The physical work allowed his mind to slow down, relax, and get perspective.
Sometimes I complain about the tedious, repetitious tasks of everyday life. Yet the saying, “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings” warns me about what can happen when I don’t do those tasks. The saying means when we are bored we can get into or cause trouble. I don’t think the “trouble” it refers to is confined to the stuff that makes the evening news; I think the trouble can be in our minds–trouble such as anxiety, depression, resentment, envy, and anger.
The next time I’m tempted to complain when doing repetitious work, I’ll remember the value in it, and the trouble I’m “missing out” on!