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Work and Love

“The wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass; And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving. Work is love made visible.” – Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Today is Labor Day in the United States, a day of rest for many (not all), and an opportunity to reflect on this thing called work. If you’re doing work you love, then Gibran’s words will resonate. If you’re doing work that grinds your soul to dust, you might think his words are ridiculous. But to live a fulfilling life, shouldn’t that which we labor in be loved?

Piecing words together isn’t hard labor, but any writer knows that it’s work. Paradoxically, if writing every day is work, it must reverberate with love to be enjoyable for the reader. The jury is still out on this writer.

In my working life I’ve done everything from sweeping up broken glass to managing salespeople in a Fortune 500 company. I took as much care removing every sliver of glass from the ground as I did managing the emotional response to a quarterly review. Work is love made visible, otherwise it’s self-immolation.

So on this rare day of rest in our hustling culture, what do we celebrate? A break from the grind or a moment to recharge before leaping back into the joy of a meaningful career? Especially now, somewhere between a pandemic and normal, work should be celebrated for where it brings us in our lives, and for what we may give back to others.

What can we be great at? Shouldn’t we put our heart and soul into that which transcends work? To rise above the daily grind to joyful, purposeful labor seems the only path to a full life.

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