Today, many of us are stressed: work has become difficult with so many financial cuts, increased workloads, and the technologically enhanced option of 24-hour-7 day-a-week connections to the job. At the same time, however, many of us are grateful we still have work.
Some might argue that there is no ‘gift’ in work, no value beyond the paycheck, but I would disagree. Work offers us the opportunity to learn, refine our talents, be productive, and build our sense of community and self.
- Some people go to work to collect a pay check or gain a specific benefit (summers off, being a coach, having a captive audience);
- Others go because they feel called to contribute in meaningful ways to their personal development and the development of the organization(s) in which they participate;
- Still others go to find meaning and discover self for “work” is a part of the journey that reveals who we are.
Your approach determines if yours is a job, a career, or a calling. We can tell when we are in the midst of someone who believes their work is a calling. They exemplify mastery while at the same time making themselves vulnerable to learning. They demonstrate reserved professionalism while simultaneously exuding passion. They live in ‘flow’ and work seems effortless, but they embrace challenge even so. They are fun to watch – they are like poetry in motion.
In his book, Crossing the Unknown Sea, David Whyte writes, “To have firm persuasion, to set out boldly in our work, is to make a pilgrimage of our labors, to understand that the consummation of work lies not only in what we have done, but who we have become while accomplishing the task” (5). For those who approach work as a calling, no task is too menial and each ‘moment’ offers the opportunity to learn and change our world.
It is nothing short of alchemy to work through the happy, the sad, the profound, and the insignificant moments – each providing insights into our very selves. It is Grace to be both generated and generative at exactly the same time.
Today, wherever you work – in the home, for yourself, as one who farms or stocks shelves or runs multi-million dollar companies – may you find meaning in the smallest of tasks. And may you always learn more about your own rhythms and rhymes in the poesy you create with and for others.
Whyte, David. (2001). Crossing the unknown sea: Work as a pilgrimage of identity. NY: Riverhead Books.