The Joy of Graftingby Sally Lever
'There can be no joy in life without the joy of work.'
Firstly, I'd like to make clear that I'm not talking about 'grafting' as in 'extortion', but as in satisfying, productive, physical work. In our industrial growth society, I mourn the decrease in this activity with the advances in technology and automation. But it's not just these mechanical innovations that have caused us to reduce how much of each day we spend on manual labour. If we valued this practice, then surely we would've made sure that it remained a sacred part of our everyday lives.
What's changed our values?
Off the top of my head, some initial thoughts are:
What seems to be behind all of these is the tendency within our culture to value money and status above wellbeing and the assumption that our worth is determined by something or someone outside of ourselves.
The joy of grafting for me, in contrast, stems from my beliefs that my wellbeing and that of others is more important to me than money, status or What Others Think. This is an example of one of the shifts in perspectives that occurs when we start adopting a more simple and sustainable way of living.
'When we are at home in the garden, tending and nurturing all its plants, animals and minerals, living with them through all the seasons and days, then healing comes upon us like a gift and makes us whole.'
What are the benefits of grafting?
The distinction between joyful grafting and 'doing chores' is very eloquently described in John Lane's book 'Timeless Simplicity'. Here, he regards activities to do with gardening, preparing and cooking food and homemaking as 'The Sacred Arts'. They are activities to be savoured, honoured and enjoyed, rather than blitzed, resented and tolerated. Don't you just love that as a way of reframing 'domestic drudgery'?
Of course, it's equally important to keep heavy physical labour in balance with other types of work and activities and in alignment with our state of health and stage of life. Moderation and harmony are values that spring to mind here.
What constitutes joyful grafting for you?
This article first appeared on Sally's blog in September 2011. Through her blog, Fruitful, Sally Lever seeks to explore the heart and soul of downshifting to a more sustainable, ethical and holistic way of living and working, in keeping with the needs of the planet, humanity as a whole and ourselves as individuals.
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