Leave White Collar for the Artisan Life?
— Nov 10, 2016 —
A recent article in the New York Times was devoted to people who left the white-collar world and became craftsmen. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/04/fashion/mens-style/how-to-quit-your-office-job-physical-labor.html?rref=collection%2Fsec
It immediately reminded me of sweet Konstantin in Anna Karenina who resigned his post in government because it seemed pointless. One scene in the book has always stuck in my mind: the one where he works in the fields with his workers and gets into a Zen state from the concentration and repetitive action of cutting wheat in the fields.
The Times article features a Software Salesman who becomes a Landscaper, a Lawyer who gives up law to become a Furniture Maker, a Network Planner turned Bakery Owner and a Graphic Designer who is now a Stonemason. Pretty radical changes.
But maybe there is something we can learn from Konstantin and his contemporary counterparts-the joy of making things. In business, the results of our labors are not as immediate and as satisfying as actually making something with our hands. And the stressors of business can be relentless.
If not ready to jump from office to manual labor, but perhaps adding a bit of it to our lives might be helpful. My outlet is making jewelry. My mind empties as I string the stones and I get great satisfaction out of seeing the finished product. Same with baking. It’s creating an actual thing you can look at. And eat. Gardening is therapeutic. Unfortunately I live in Brooklyn, but I have taken over the two small patches of fenced-in dirt flanking the entrance to my building and I prune and dig on the weekends.
Since a lot of us don’t have a work area there are great spaces that do and they come with tools: https://www.nexttopmakers.com/blog/6-wonderful-friendly-maker-spaces-new-york-city
So before you toss your white collar and leave the office, add some manual labor to your life. It might be just what you need.
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