It’s officially been one week since Tim and I began our workaway on a small organic vineyard in Central Chile. Here’s the overview so far:
Hard work is hard, but rewarding
I think it’s a fantasy ideal: toiling all day in the heat in some romantic setting. There’s a sense of purity to pushing your body, living simply, spending your days in the fresh air and beneath open skies. And, it does feel pure. But, it’s also tough.
Every day means dirt beneath fingernails, skin covered with sun cream and sweat and tiny bugs. Aching backs and tired bodies. The days don’t fly, but drift by lazily as the sun grows in intensity.
Maybe that sounds all bad, but it isn’t quite so. By the time the mid-afternoon hits, I feel good about my productivity during the day. Physical labour is tough, but the results are very visible. It feels good to look back and really see what you’ve accomplished. Plus, I feel like I really worked my body—I don’t need to feel guilty about hunching over my laptop for the whole day. Also, I think anyone can appreciate how good it feels to cook yourself some good food and relax with an iced coffee after a day like that.
A routine can kill or complement creativity
It takes time to get used to having real responsibilities again. Travelling can really make you feel like every moment can be used for something new. Then, you realize that real life has dogs that need to be fed at certain hours, dishes that need to be washed after every meal, and duties that restrict you from taking advantage of the hours when you feel most creative and productive (which, happens to be around the hours of 8-11 in the morning for me—inconvenient).
It’s easy to schedule your day around the routine that seems to easily fall into place, but (for me, at least) this can really kill your motivation to work on new projects, to explore new ideas beyond the initial thought, and to work extra hard for something that just doesn’t have the tangible realness of those routine things.
Luckily, acknowledging this difficulty can be a huge step forward. Acknowledging the routine itself can be a huge step forward. That gives you the chance to make small changes, to fit things into the in-between moments (like writing this), and to avoid falling victim to afterwork indulgence (like Netflix, cocktails, or other completely fantastic things that just aren’t conducive to productivity).
Embracing your setting is a beautiful thing
Here I sit, in a rural part of a popular wine region in Chile. I have a front porch with a chair, five dogs to keep me company. I’m one hour from the beach and a couple of hours from the mountains. Every evening I see a late setting sun cast its glow over green, green vineyards, with birds constantly swooping and chirping. There are fluffy ducklings across the yard, and a kitten who just wants to play. There’s a rose garden that begins two feet beyond where I sit. This could be paradise for a huge portion of the human population. It’s just good to take it all in from that perspective.