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Posted Tuesday, January 11, 2011, at 10:46 AM

No, not the TV show. Generally prefer entertainment neither incredulous nor incomprehensible. Definitely lose me when both.

This is about coal mining, more or less.

There is this old country song by Merle Travis, "Dark as a Dungeon," which contains one line that has stuck in my mind for many years: "A man will have lust for the lure of the mine."

The thing which made this line so significant to me was what my mother said when she heard Tennessee Ernie Ford sing it: "That is what many women fail to understand about men, a man will lust for his life's work -- even if it's going down into the mines."

From time to time someone will ask from what it is I am retired. My general answer is, nobody knows. For one thing, never cared for our tendency to put people in a "box" by what they do. More to the point, not all that sure myself from what it is I am retired.

At different times I've put my hand to writing (no money in that), retail and even door-to-door sales, a bit of not-that-good preaching, and some years as a driver. Don't know if any of our kids could even tell you from what daddy retired.

The thing I did the longest was Income Tax preparation, probably a good twenty tax seasons. But, no, don't ask me to do your return. Woke-up at end of 1986 season in the Cardiac Unit of a St. Louis hospital and decided I might be able to find a less stressful way to earn a living -- still looking for that way.

As mother might have put it, all men are miners; either finding a way to do the work they love, or unhappy with their life. For example, our oldest son never wanted to do anything but work on cars (people who like to fix cars can always find something to fix). Our second son has loved working with computers since long before we actually had one (people who love to work with computers, etc.).

For me, tax work (and most things I've done) was simply a vehicle to get to work with the numbers that represent dollars.

What I still "lust" for is working with the figures. Observation tells me there are people who do "paperwork" and the rest of the world. I'm a paperwork person. Figures don't lie, so they say. But, give me enough numbers to work with and I am in coal miner's heaven.

The first of the year, tax time, is still my time. All those books to balance! All those forms to be correctly completed! Always (ideally?) audit-proofed!

My parents were devotedly married until the day my father died, maybe even until the day mother died some forty years later. Part of their marital success certainly lay in her understanding that "A man will have lust for the lure of the mine."

Even if that "mine" consists of cars, or computers, or NUMB3RS, or even coal mines.

David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at kayanddavid@frontier.com.

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Still not sure.

-- Posted by theoneinthearmy on Tue, Jan 11, 2011, at 9:21 PM

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