On Devaluing Work

Bob over at The PA-IN Erudition, beat me to the punch a few days ago in mentioning Brendon Grimshaw's story.

I still wanted to add my two cents.
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Last week, this story was deservingly featured here in the States:

Thanks to one man's dedication and love, the beauty and wonder of an island in the Seychelles will be around for years to come...

According to the Daily Mail, Brendon Grimshaw bought Moyenne Island, off the north coast of Mahe, Seychelles, in the early 1960s...

At the time, he was a successful newspaper editor in Africa who was itching to start a new life. It took nine years for him to take the jump but finally, in 1973, the journalist from Dewsbury, England, moved to his new island with nothing but a dream.

Grimshaw has lived there ever since. When he first arrived at Moyenne, the island -- abandoned for over 50 years -- was overgrown with shrubbery so dense that coconuts could not fall to the ground.

Together with a Seychellois named Rene Lafortune, Grimshaw tirelessly worked to transform the island. Over the last 39 years, Grimshaw, now 86, and Lafortune planted 16,000 trees by hand -- including 700 mahogany trees that have grown to reach 60-70 feet in height -- and have built 4.8 kilometers of nature paths...

Lafortune died in 2007, leaving Grimshaw to care for the island alone.

According to Joseph Johnson Cami, director of a documentary about Grimshaw called 'A Grain of Sand,' while Lafortune occasionally lived on the island when the two were working on it, Grimshaw has been the only permanent inhabitant of Moyenne and has virtually been living alone for four decades.

...the nature lover has also attracted about 2,000 new birds to the island which he helps care for. He is also the loving caretaker of 120 giant tortoises.

Almost hunted to total extinction in the early 1900s, the giant tortoise -- though indigenous to the Seychelles -- continues to be at risk on most of the other islands, the Daily Mail reports. Grimshaw's island now also holds more than two thirds of all endemic plants to the Seychelles...

In the comments section of the linked article, I saw several readers discussing how they were envious of Grimshaw and that they would do what he did in a heartbeat.

Really?

Could they?


I think these folks are devaluing the extraordinary effort and dedication that is Grimshaw's life.

He left everything that was familiar to him and focused on one goal: creating beauty that was for anyone to experience.

For over 14,000 days he awoke and spent hours dirtying his hands--clearing and planting one small area of island at a time.

He worked and worked and worked.

No immediate access to NFL, NBA, or professional sports.

Bugs, bugs, and lots more bugs.

Limited face-to-face contact with loved ones and friends.

No Starbucks, Panera, or Poppa Johns.

Just sweat and dedication.

And I assume, regular doubts about what he was doing and whether it was worth the sacrifice.

Though news readers envisioning Grimshaw sunning himself on the white sand with a breath-taking view of the ocean is appealing, the reality is much different.

It is easy to miss his sacrifice and hard-work--exemplified in what is now this island.

Not everyone could do what Grimshaw has done.

No need to devalue the effort.

A journey of a thousand miles does begin with a single step.

Or a single tree planted in this instance.

32 comments:

Pat Hatt said...

I think many could do it, but only if they absolutely had to. 99% of the world would not do it by choice like he did.

It surely sounds like quite the life but tons of hard work and living with ones self all the time, no modern perks. I wouldn't want to do it. Kudos to him.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

What an incredible guy! I couldn't live totally alone like that for very long, nor could I handle the physical work. I would learn to deal with lack of technology, so long as I had pen and paper. There certainly would be a withdrawal period, however, as you can tell from my obsessive blogging.

Bob G. said...

Slamdunk:
Thanks for bringing this story to light a lot better than I did.

He is a remarkable man, and given his passion and devotion, that island WILL be a source of pride and accomplishment for generations.

Perhaps one man CAN "be an island"...after a fashion.
Excellent commentary.

Stay safe out there.

Miranda Hardy said...

What a great story. I'm not sure I could have done it, but I do admire the dedication. It's a dream of many to own an island.

Sarah Ahiers said...

omg, how wonderful is this story? I'm totally going to see if i can find that documentary

Matthew MacNish said...

What an inspirational story. Proof that there is still hope for the human race.

Tina L. Hook said...

What an amazing story. I'm adding this documentary to my wish list and filing this story away in my research file. It is kind of poetic, devoting yourself to an island.

Expat From Hell said...

This was inspiring, timely, and not a little compelling. A perfect read for the time and place I'm in at present. Thanks again for the direct hit, SD! EFH

Brian Miller said...

ok so maybe i am just a bit envious of thefruits of the labor...you are right it is hard work but...

Cindy Beck, author said...

Amazing! I am totally in awe of the guy. He had a singular vision and let nothing stop him. Hours upon hours of work, sweat, and no doubt, tears.

Thanks so much for posting the story, Slam Dunks!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

How fascinating. I had not heard his story before. I bet he led a very happy life - sounds like his determination filled him (and the island) up.

messymimi said...

It is like people who think they would like to live a pioneer life or in the woods or similar things. They don't stop and think of all the hard work that goes into living.

He is amazing.

The Querulous Squirrel said...

Very much a labor of love and passion. The exact opposite of those destroying the planet.

Secret Agent Woman said...

That's cool. I'm always pleased to hear about someone saving some piece of the natural world.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Hmmm When you put it that way. . . .

All bets were off when you mentioned bugs bugs bugs. ;)

Jax said...

Oh, he was a great man!! Thank you for telling me about him. I just went on a whole google hunt about him.

P.S. Papa Johns is awful. Just awful... LOL

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Beth Zimmerman said...

I couldn't do it! No way ... no how! But I'm impressed that he did! Thanks for sharing!

Miss Caitlin S. said...

I had not heard of this story but I'm so glad you told me about it and then gave me such a perspective to view it from.

What he did is amazing and you're right, I'm imagining an easy life, free from the confines and strains of modern technology and the hustle bustle.

But you are very right, there was so much more sacrifice that went into it other than moving to a distant island, thank you for the great pointers. And the story. What an amazing journey.

Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

I couldn't do it because I need social contact too much, but given my current friend woes, maybe I do need an island. I'll go all middle school and only invite the people I want to live on it with me! :-)

Maxi said...

Brendon Grimshaw was on a mission; it's the rare individual who has his kind of dedication.

He has my admiration and respect; he is an inspiration.

Blessings - Maxi

Maxi said...

Brendon Grimshaw was on a mission; it's the rare individual who has his kind of dedication.

He has my admiration and respect; he is an inspiration.

Blessings - Maxi

Unknown said...

Wow .. what a story! And I totally agree that people always say - oh, I would totally do that, when in actual fact, the amount of work it takes and the level of commitment over YEARS is what sets people like Mr. G apart... AMAZING story! thanks for sharing!!

Clarissa Draper said...

That man did amazing things and you're right, I don't think we should devalue it. I know I couldn't do what those men did.

Talli Roland said...

Wow. Now that's dedication! It's always easier said than done, isn't it?

AB Home Interiors said...

I don't know. I am such an introvert that as long as I had good sun screen and some basic essentials like nail clippers, scissors, hair brush I just might be able to do it. I worked with an energy healer a few years back that lived like this for 20 years and she recently moved back to the states. She said she felt violated with the tastes of our foods, and the smog and congestion of our world. I think it is a valid point.

ladyfi said...

What an amazing guy!

Ciara said...

I was ready to jump on a boat and head to the islands on my own quest until I read about the bugs.
Sorry, I'm out. I'll have to find a new way to dedicate my life to making the world a better place.
His story is inspiring.

Kristen @ Motherese said...

What an incredible story of dedication. I'd never heard of Mr. Grimshaw, but was glad to learn about his work. Talk about "Earth Day, Everyday!" :)

Blond Duck said...

That's amazing!

ooglebloops said...

It takes a certain dedication- like Jane Goodall living most of her life studying the chimpanzees. Grimshaw was even more alone-but, it only takes one, and he was obviously the the one!!

A Doc 2 Be said...

For reasons you may well know, thank you for posting this. Exactly what I needed as I start moving on. And out.