Man At Work

Who is that guy waking up at 3 am for a 12 hour shift? The guy that will take a few days “off” to come do your chores? The guy who picks up the rake over a fishing pole? The guy still clocking in at 65?

My Dad.

He grew up in Dayton, Ohio; gardening, hunting mushrooms, working at the local donut shop and getting in a little fishing in here and there. In 1972 he left Ohio to try life in California but didn’t quite make it after stopping here in Colorado.

It wasn’t long before he found a gig mining molybdenum around the Frisco area for a company called Climax. He worked a few different mines including the one at the top of Fremont pass before moving to Henderson mine where he worked nearly 2 miles underground, day in and day out, for over 40 years.

Tough, gritty work as you can imagine. On top of that, he made the 2+ hour round trip commute each day for years from the front range to Empire. How he didn’t go insane spending that much time on I-70 is beyond me.

There was a period of time each winter where he’d see the sun only on his 1-2 days off a week; waking up at 3:30 am to leave the house by quarter to five to make it up to the mine by 6. Then go underground for a 10-12 hour shift.
About a year and a half ago he took to retirement from mining, somewhat unexpectedly. I can’t even begin to imagine how strange a feeling that was to have worked somewhere for over 40 years and then one day just not have to go in.

“I can’t call a person a hard worker just because I hear they read and write, even if working at it all night. Until I know what a person is working for, I can’t deem them industrious… I can if the end they work for is their own ruling principle, having it be and remain in constant harmony with Nature”- Epictetus


I think it was by the 2nd or third day of retirement that he decided to remodel his entire kitchen and living room by himself. After about 3 months of that, there he was on the hunt for a new job. “Why?” I asked. Just call it a day and go buy yourself that little house with a few acres you can farm. He would have none of it though and has been back at work for the past six months. He’ll tell you it’s because he still needs the money, but I know better.

When he comes out for a visit, rather than relaxing or maybe fishing for a few days, it

never fails that he’ll find things to get done instead. I had to work one day last time he was out and when I got home a few of these new blinds I had laying around were hung, the yard had been thoroughly mowed/edged, and there were about 8 new Iris plants
in my yard.

Maybe you can relate here, maybe not, but it seems like the guy is constantly “working.” For years it boggled my mind as to how could someone always choose work over play. That is, until I began to feel that same “pull.”
At first it seemed like some kind of ambiguous obligation. Instead of taking a whole day to ski or fish, more and more often it felt like something needed to get done. Maybe it has something to do with what I wrote about last month; moving from a world of passion into a new awareness of purpose, but sometimes it is

a struggle.

One part of my mind piles on the projects and why they need to get done, while the other tries to justify why I don’t seem to get out and play as much as I used to.

So I work. Either until I feel whatever it is has been accomplished, or feel intense

FOMO (fear of missing out) creep in. At either point, I’ll make it a priority to partake in something that doesn’t feel so much like “work”, either until it feels like I’ve satisfied the itch, or again, fear sets in. A

fear that I’ve neglected and fallen way behind on projects. This is the cycle and slowly but surely I’m learning the art of balancing it all.

“Work nourishes noble minds” – Seneca

Everyone likes to have fun, enjoy themselves, and relax a little bit. But at the end of the day, we’re all here for a purpose, even if some never really come to find it. The mind and the body are meant to be use

d. When they’re not put to some productive end, they begin to turn on themselves. So in a way, work is therapy. Perhaps that’s why my dad, and maybe yours too, will always be a man at work.