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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

Ashley Addair self portrait

(by Levon who was listening to Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage earlier)

Today I had a project to do: hanging the hammock that we toted back from Chiapas.  This is a two person coat of many colors that spans almost the length of our carport.  As today’s heat was steaming away in the afternoon shower, I had just satisfied myself with some Eagle Scouting of bright, yellow nylon rope.  I’m pretty sure I could pull the car onto this hammock, tighten the tautline hitch, and hoist it up out of the way.  Now it’s very late and I’m swinging, happy that we have this luxury, enjoying the cool relief of night, and desperately trying to think deep as if the meaning or at least grand direction of life could come if I start typing as I swing.  Writing is therapeutic and good for ironing out the mind.  But if you read this, don’t tell me that you did.

I’ve been reviewing my history with the word “work.”  It began when my dad made me get a job.  He said when I was old enough to mow our yard a while that I should ask to mow the neighbor’s too, so that’s what I did.  Soon I had four yards which was pretty good cash and my backbacking gear to this day is straight out of the 1994 North Face catalogue (when the North Face was still the North Face, but that’s another day’s sermon).  Then I had this problematic customer.  After a few weeks he told me that he needed me to weed eat the ditch that ran the length of his lot, only I had let it become a young woodland in my neglect.  I started then gave up, walked home and my dad asked how it went.  I told him how loony the guy was for wanting his ditch maintained properly and my dad sort of scratched his jaw and walked out across the back yard until he could see the neighbor’s point of view.  I’ll never forget what he said.

“Go weed eat the ditch.”

Ferrell's in Madisonville, KY

I consider myself, with reservations, a capitalist, not an effective one, but in application, and on that preteen day I began to see a little bit more of the pizza.  There was a lawn mower I didn’t pay for and gas for which I was supposed to chip in, although I couldn’t drive to get it.  The weedeater wasn’t mine either and none of the maintenance on the machines was in my realm of thought.  Until then my summer days were swim practice and watching American Gladiators.  Now was this con notion that work was something beyond what my mother wanted me to do, something someone else was needing done and was offering to pay me for.  My entire enterprise had been granted by my dad and I tried hard to realize it was pretty easy this time.  One would hope it always would be.

A gesturing resume has been the result of those early discoveries.  Winding round and round the yards, the pilot gyrations of finding myself, the boy would become me and I’m happy that dad told me to go weed eat the ditch.  Outdoor work is the best for finding metaphors, call it cliche or call it conventional.  Weeding things, planting things, growing things, the cycles of things, and the circles of lawnmower tracks growing closer and closer like the thumbprint of the boy thinking about the work of his hands.

I was confused then and I’m confused now, swinging in this hammock and typing what I’ll later be bewildered I admitted freely to.  Happens all the time.  I think I’ll either be landscaping or doing construction next week which means I’ll more than likely be philosophically and physically exhausted when I get home.  If you ask me now, I’d say that my vocation is a writer and musician which requires that I have lots of them.  I also garden on the side.


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