Digging a Hole

Jonathan - California
Entered on January 24, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in digging a hole. When I was younger I rarely refused to do what I was told, but when the occasion arose, my father often gave me an ultimatum. “If you don’t want to take out the trash, why don’t you get a shovel and start digging.” The worse part was that he wasn’t kidding, so I would immediately attend to the chore. As a kid, I thought that digging a hole would be a horrible punishment. All I could think about was the dirt sticking to my body as I slaved away digging a pit of nothingness under the harsh light of the afternoon sun. Of course, my 10-year old mind trumped things up a bit, but the main idea was there – digging holes was pointless and no fun.

Since then I have dug a lot of holes, not because I was in trouble, but because it was part of working on a ranch. My entire life I have worked side by side with people whose lives are built upon digging holes. I suppose a more apt term would be physical labor, but the message is still the same – their livelihood is their hands. For a long time I thought that those kinds of people, the kind who work with their hands and not with their minds, were beneath me in some way. I figured that since I was a 4.0 student on my way to a 4-year college and a life without calloused hands, I was automatically better than those who worked with their hands. Luckily I got over that once I had spent some time in FFA (Future Farmers of America).

In FFA I was able to learn to work with my hands, but more importantly I met the type of people who would build their lives with their hands. While most things in life have come easily for me, my skills in the shop did not. When I first started welding I would spend half the time just trying to avoid getting the welding rod stuck to the table, but the biggest blow to my pride came at the end of class when we had to turn in our welds to be graded. All my welds appeared to be molten piles of slag barely holding two pieces of metal together, while my classmates were turning in metal held together with smoothly welded ripples. That’s when I began to realize that there are two kinds of intelligence. Some people are smart with their minds and some people are smart with their hands. Some would disagree, but neither side is better than the other because they both need each other. The people who are considered smarter can design a building, but they can’t build it without the people who are good with their hands. It took me a while to get over my snobbery and realize that there are two kinds of equal intelligence, but I now understand the importance of digging a hole.