Manual Labor

For the past two years I’ve been working toward becoming a full-time musician.  This past January I finally took the plunge.  I feel very privileged to be able to do something I truly love to do and live off the income.  But sometimes I just need to switch gears for a bit.

My Uncle Brad manages a greenhouse in Ramsey, Minnesota.  Green Valley Greenhouse.  They supply all the potted plants for all the COSTCOs, Cub Foods, and hundreds of other retailers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.  For the past two years I’ve gone up to work as seasonal help for the week leading up to Mother’s Day.  It’s by far their busiest (and money makin-est) week of the year, and they hire a bunch of extra people and everyone works a whole lot of overtime.  Working from 7am to 7pm is pretty average for any given employee during this particular week, and a lot of people end up working more than that.  Despite the extremely high volume of flowers being loaded, delivered, unloaded and sold, and the accompanying warehouse chaos, I’ve really enjoyed this random little side-job each May for the past couple years.  The management is great to work for (including my uncle) and the rest of the employees are great to work with as well.  It’s also great to be able to work a midst an array of absolutely gorgeous plants, with the accompanying burst of pure oxygen they provide.  It’s like working in an oxygen bar.

Confession: I have never been to an oxygen bar.

I love music, but it involves a lot of precision.  Tune the guitar.  Adjust the gain.  Tweak the EQ.  Tune the guitar again.  Sometimes it’s just nice to carry heavy stuff and get your hands covered in dirt.  I’ve noticed that doing some occasional manual labor is actually really good for me (ya think?)  So that’s obvious I guess.  But it’s easy for me to get in a mindset of thinking that I must work unceasingly at writing, recording, and performing music, 80 hours per week, year after year.  Because as I’ve been told, there’s someone else out there (in Nashville I assume) working just as hard as me at what I’m doing, and if I don’t continue my grueling pace, that person will steal all my success and I’ll be left with nothing.  No, I’m sorry, breaks are good.  I need breaks.  So, starting tomorrow, I’m heading up to Minnesota to go work at a greenhouse and enjoy some good old manual labor.

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  1. I went to an oxygen bar once. Not a real one. They set one up on the campus of the community college I cover during finals. The oxygen was scented like citrus and I got a paraffin mask for my hands while I waited.

    Not as pretty as a greenhouse, though.

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