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Creation Versus Consumption

Over the weekend, I’d had enough of the back door to our garage.

The door’s been there since the house was built, nearly 30 years ago. It’s seen several different doorknobs and locks and such, but it’s the same door.

The problem was that — all those doorknobs and locks — they’ve been drilled into the exact same holes in the door. And, over the years, those holes got a bit bigger and a bit looser, and a bit bigger and a bit looser, until, as of the weekend, the screws holding the lock plate to the door kept falling out.

We’d try to close the door, only to have it *clang* off the doorjamb and bounce back at us. It was at the point that I could simply push the screws back into the door with my thumb.

So, yes, I’d had enough. I went out and purchased some wood filling putty, put on some surgical rubber gloves and got to work. Cutting and rolling and kneading the putty, I then shoved it into the various screw holes. I cleaned it up and then waited for an hour for the putty to cure.

When that was done, I got out the trusty electric drill/screwdriver and put the screws back in, nice and tight. Then I sat back and basked in the endorphin rush of getting something done.

It’s what an individual going by the name of Rands on the internet calls the “Builder’s High.”

I don’t know what cascading chemical awesomeness is going down in my brain when it detects and rewards me for the act of building, but I’m certain that the hormonal cocktail is the end result of millions of years of evolution. Part of the reason we’re at the top of the food chain is that we are chemically rewarded when we are industrious – it is evolutionarily advantageous to be productive.

Rands is worried that we as a society are training ourselves to deny our own instinct to be productive by overdosing on other people’s moments, via Facebook, twitter and the like. He might have a point.

I know I’ve often had that builder’s high when I’ve finished some project around the house, be it writing “the end” when I’ve finished making a book, or fixing the garbage disposal or even, yes, really, getting all the leaves out of the lawn on a late fall afternoon.

(Seriously, I’ll look out over the newly uncarpeted-with-leaves lawn, see the fading green of the grass well mowed and feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Maybe I’m just easily satisfied by manual labor. Could be the case.)

It’s a wonderful sensation. I think it can also be called the Satisfaction Of A Job Well Done, although I’m not sure I want to actually call it that because now I’m sounding like my grandfather when he got up on his high hobby horse and started yammering about how I was too lazy while I was enjoying the hammock.

Still, he might have had a point. In athletics, that feeling you’ve got, after you’ve left it all out there on the field and emerged victorious, almost can’t be beat.

It’s the difficult things that bring the most satisfaction when we bring them into reality. If it’s easy, there’s not really any “high,” no sense of accomplishment. But when we have to work, to sweat, to force ourselves to keep going. . .

That’s when it all feels oh, so good.

Why not encourage the young dudes and dudettes to help them get those feels? Work with them to accomplish something together and share how good that made you feel.

Because, let’s face it, the greatest act of creation we’re going to do is help our young dudes and dudettes create the lives they will inhabit. I know I want to feel proud of the work I’ve done when I’m done. You?

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