A few weeks ago, I visited with Christina Ott of Barefoot Builder in Woodbury, TN. It was a lot of fun, and it’s always really rewarding to have good, meaningful exchange with folks who are on the same trajectory as your own. Anyway, a topic came up which I have since been thinking about a bit, and I have a question I would love to pose to everyone out there who does very physical work as a part of their livelihoods.
How do we take care of ourselves and our bodies?
Natural building can be extremely physically intense. Much of the work is not for the faint of heart, especially if you choose to do it without the aid of machinery. Making cob, hauling buckets of heavy and wet materials, moving stone for foundation work, digging, hefting timbers and working wood, peeling bark, stacking straw bales, plastering… whether it be cob construction, straw bale, earth bag, timber framing, cordwood, whatever, you are bound to discover the limits of your body by doing natural building. This type of physically intense work is not limited to natural building, of course, but since this is my frame of reference, that’s how I will explore it.
Is it possible to live a physically exerting lifestyle without damaging your body, or wearing yourself too thin, too quickly? I’m 28, fairly fit, and don’t have too much that worries me — yet. But I imagine that after 10, 15, 20, or more years of a physically intense lifestyle, potential problems are more likely to crop up.
(Is also brings to mind — do industrialized people actually push their bodies harder than more traditional societies? That’s a tangent that I don’t think I want to get into here, but I love thinking about it.)
Anyway, I think there is something to say for balance, of course, but it’s easy to lose focus on balance when you have pressing deadlines, when winter is coming, when a client is demanding something by a very specific time… so what do you do?
And how long can you keep up a physically intense lifestyle?
Another (unfortunate) question is: and what do you do if you happen to get injured, and don’t have health insurance? Man, oh man, I hate thinking about that possibility. But it’s there.
I would love it if people could speak to these issues. Let’s hear it!