When I was a kid, my father would occasionally ask me to dig a hole. He was an avid landscape gardener, and he used these holes for yard waste, weeds, leaves and other things he needed to get rid of.
Here's the thing: digging a hole was NOT punishment for me. It was simply something I was expected to do to help.
Here's the thing, parte deux: I liked digging holes.
In the morning, my dad would hand me a spade and a shovel, and we'd set off to some "back" area of the yard (in the belt of trees at the edge of the property) where he'd mark out where he wanted the hole dug. And I'd start digging.
Now, you might be thinking "yeah, but lots of kids dig holes."
True. But these were not just "holes." As a 9-year old, I put the fear of God into adult men who had made a career of ditch digging.
The holes were probably about 3-4 feet wide and 6-7 feet long. If I started on Saturday morning... I'd probably be about 6-7 feet down, by the end of Sunday... one end would be "staired" down in 2-foot increments, so I could get in and out. The big excitement for me was to get deep enough to where I was digging in the compacted golden sand that underlies much of coastal Denmark... and this was also what my dad was looking for, so he could spread it on the lawn to even out the bumps.
I have no idea why this appealed so much to me... conversations with my peers (at the time) and other people (since) points to the fact that most people would interpret spending a weekend (as a kid OR an adult) digging a large hole in the ground as a particularly heinous form of torture. For me, it never really was. There was something comforting about digging a deep hole... and being able to sit in a place where all I could see was the sky and clouds drifting by... no side view, at all. And I didn't mind being "in the Earth." And I felt none of the fear many (including my mother) shared: "Oh, but what if it collapsed in on you?"
The attendant conversations at school on Monday morning were a little bit awkward.... concerning the "what did YOU do this weekend?" issue...
Sven: "Oh, we went to the amusement park, I got a new air rifle and we hunted squirrels!"
Lars: "We went camping, and I caught 13 fish!"
Henrik: "We built a fort in the abandoned junkyard!"
Me: "I dug a hole in the ground!"
[Insert sound of needle scratching across the vinyl of a record]
"You what? What did you DO to get that kind of punishment?"
"No, I wanted to..."
"Dude... you are SO weird..."
Maybe we all have strange things we liked to do as kids... things nobody else "got" about us.