“And unto Adam he said, Because thou has hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it was thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” –Genesis 3: 17-19 KJV
Thanksgiving week is supposed to be a time for kicking back and relaxing. It’s vacation, technically, for me and for my students. But I’ve never been the kind to sit still for very long. Yesterday I indulged myself with a few hours of Skyrim, the “new” computer game I recently picked up (I recently got ribbed by my students for buying a four-year-old game as new, but that’s another story), and afterward I felt a bit odd. When you work every day like I do, even if it’s behind a desk or in front of a classroom, it’s hard to turn it off.
And so, interspersed with the computer game time were trips to the office to take care of school-related stuff, a trip to get Shelly’s registration done on her car, and a disassembly of my daughter’s tub to see why it wasn’t putting out hot water. Today, I was up to make a trip to Toyota to get a key made for my daughter’s car, then took it over to a repair shop to see why the AC isn’t working. After I write this, the afternoon will be split between reviewing a friend’s book manuscript and fixing a toilet here at home.
Retirement is five (four?) years away, and my biggest fear is not whether we can afford it or not, but whether Shelly and I will fall into the trap of sitting in our living room and staring at our TV until the paramedics come and haul us away to our final resting place. That’s not living. And as strange as it seems, work seems to be closer to what God intended.
I’m not advocating workaholism. I see too much of that. What I am advocating is work in moderation. Work that uses the brain and the body, that involves the soul and the spirit, that gives you time alone and time with friends and family. As much as I might hate sweating when I work here in the summer heat, I love it too. Because working (and sweating) reminds you that you are alive. More than sitting in front of a TV does, unfortunately. And sadly, I am saying this as a writer. I got into writing because I wanted to live other people’s lives vicariously. But if you do that too much, you’ll find life–real life–has passed you by.
So I’m finding these last few years before retirement are a time for reflection. I’m seeing what some people call Adam’s Curse as more of a blessing from God. Sweat, hard work, thorns: they all remind us that we are mortal. They all remind us that some day we are going to die. And they remind us of our desperate need for a Savior.