Friday, October 3, 2008

An Unexpected Pleasure and Life Lesson

As the economy slows, we will need to find non-spending routes to pleasure.

Today, I found a most unusual one. I was walking my dog, Einstein, around Lake Temescal and decided that I was going to pick up all the dog poop that was lying along the trail.

My first motive for doing so was altruistic: It would keep people from stepping in it. But after filling a few poop bags, I found myself deriving pleasure from doing it:
  • It was a concrete accomplishment. It took just a few moments per pile yet each one made a difference.
  • It was a treasure hunt: It was fun searching for the next pile.
  • I derived the pleasure of knowing that I was walking the talk: I've long said that all work is worthy work, even the lowliest. It doesn't get much lower than dung remover.
  • I felt a pleasant sense of humility from doing such lowly work.
I do plan, from now on, to pick up any poop I see when walking my dog.

Perhaps if dung removal were my full-time job, I wouldn't wax so rhapsodic about it, but my honest feeling is that even if it were, as long as it paid a living wage, I wouldn't mind it. It certainly would be a lower-stress life.

In any event, I left the lake in a bit better shape than when I arrived. Hmm: Leave a place better than when you entered it. Not a bad principle for the life well-led.


Anonymous said...

All good points. Too bad so many humble jobs don't pay a living wage. (I'm in the midst of reading The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David Shipler.)

Grace said...

This is a good example of consciously responding to the world instead of merely reacting. If you willingly choose to pick up the poop in this world, you are a slave to no one no matter what job you are given.

And don't be so sure that humble jobs don't pay. I was offered a promotion at my job because my willingness to "pick up the poop", ( the jobs that no one else wanted) gave me the reputation of being a helpful problem solver.

But I don't do these things for money. Doing the right thing just helps me sleep better at night.

Another note: I know someone who is a "poop picker" for a living - cleaning sewers and outhouses. He makes great money because he's doing the job no one else wants to do.

Mike said...

Marty- You've lost it.... If you're in the neighborhood up this way, stop by -

Anonymous said...

I got an odd pleasure today, too.

I was on the bus today during my lunch hour, and when I sat down, I found a resume mistakenly left behind. I took a look at it. It was full of grammatical errors, questionable items, and unremarkable job-seeker language.

When I got back to work, I retyped it to clean up the grammar, wrote down suggestions on how the resume could be better, and mailed everything back to the job seeker. (Considering that this is up your alley, Mr. Nemko, I'm sure you would have done a better job than I did, but I gave it a shot.)

If this were my full-time job, I'd probably have pulled my hair out doing this day after day. But it did feel good to try to help a person in the best way I knew how.


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