I love work. I always have. When I was a kid, I had to be busy with something. Granted, at that age, I didn’t care for chores; I had more important work to do. No doubt my parents, or any observing adult, would call it play. But in my mind, I was working.
This continued into the indolent teenage years. When all my friends wanted to be sleeping in, fooling around, and acting like typical, lazy teenagers, I would be working. Although I enjoy a good night’s rest (I agree with the comedian—Bill Cosby?—who said “I like a good sleep like a good steak”), still I never liked sleeping in. What a waste of time. I had things to do, and I wanted to get at it. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a completely atypical teenager; I fooled around with the best of them. But, it usually meant working at it. Unfortunately, much of my work at that time was misdirected. I was working hard, but not wisely. I’ll get back to that.
This attitude persisted into my young adult years and even to today. Although now 6 ½ decades, some heart problems, and diabetes is cramping my style, I still enter into work with gusto. I still love work.
Some might say, “Oh, you’re just a workaholic,” but I don’t think so. I don’t want to work ALL the time. I enjoy my R & R, as much as anybody. In fact, I enjoy it so much, I really work at enjoying it.
Maybe it’s the artist in me, but work, for me, is a form of creativity. I look at a task as a new creative project that I may do my best at. I want the finished effort to be done well and look good. Shovel the walk? It’s not going to be a quickly shoved-away, single path. Take it to the edge and make those edges straight, the concrete totally clear. Wash the car? No quick rinse here. Let’s detail that sucker. Clean the kitchen? Yes, all the dishes will be dried and put away, the dish drainer stowed, counters wiped, appliances in their place, floor swept, and flowers put on the table. (And, yes, I have sloughed off countless times when too tired or no time; but, the goal is to do the best.)
“That’s too much work,” I can hear people say. I’ve said that, too, but the difference can be understood in the attitude, or perspective, if you will. For some, “too much work” is simply an aversion to labor. For me, “too much work” means the end doesn’t justify the means. “Too much work,” to me means “not working smart,” or toward a stupid end.
Here’s where I must heed my own advice, or should have. Much of my working life was wasted on useless projects, dead-end jobs, or just plainly stupid thinking. And I must confess, I regret a lot of my choices. But it wasn’t the work I regret, only the direction it took me.
The blessing of work, and why it is God’s gift to mankind, is the rewards. The physical invigoration of manual labor. The mental exhilaration of thinking and calculating. The spiritual consolation and peace of liturgy. The blessing of work is the sublime joy of contemplating a job well done and realizing that this sense of accomplishment and creativity is in no way a mere human activity. This is sharing in the artistic and inventive work of the Creator. And that is a gift, pure and simple. One to be received with gratitude and joy.
Today is Labor Day. And, you probably guessed it, that means I get to take the day off from my day job and get to work at something else. Every day is a labor day for me. I just love work.