Monday, 14 December 2009

The Blessing of Work

This is a concept I've been mulling over in my mind for the past while: when did "work" actually become that dirty four letter word? When did life become about entertainment and pleasure, about building machines to eliminate the amount of work we have to do? What have we filled our lives with that is better for us and better for our world? If you look back through history at eras in which pleasure was the main goal, you would fine the Rome of Nero, the France of Marie Antoinette. And you would see the decline and ruin of those eras follow quickly.

These thoughts all started when I saw a news piece on the end of the TV Soap Opera. A few of these shows that have been on the air for nearly half a century are being canceled, and the reporter wondered if and why this might be the end of the Soap Opera format. Well, my theory is that soap operas become popular with the rise of machines in the housewives' world. When all of a sudden dishwashers did the dishes and washing machines did the laundry and microwaves did the cooking...women who would once fill their days morning to night with making and keeping their homes and families suddenly found themselves with unprecedented amounts of free time. Which was promptly filled by another machine - the television. These days, fewer women are staying home, and those who do are making that choice to consciously spend their time with their children, not in front of the TV. Hence the end of the Soap Opera.

But I'm wondering what we as a people and a society are losing as we eliminate the need for work in our lives. Here is an excerpt from a magazine article from the "Ensign" that touched on exactly this:

Today, many have forgotten the value of work. Some falsely believe that the highest goal in life is to achieve a condition in which one no longer needs to work. David O. McKay was fond of saying, "Let us realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that power to work is a blessing, that love of work is success."

Work is not a matter of economic need alone; it is a spiritual necessity...To work - honestly and productively - brings contentment and a sense of self-worth. Having done all we can to be self-reliant, to provide for our own needs and those of our family, we can turn to the Lord in confidence to ask for what we might yet lack."

This passage made me reconsider my own views of work. Like most, I feel like work is something I need to get through and finished with so that I can get on to the "fun" things. But can I find pleasure and joy in work? Can I languish in my work, not feeling the need to rush through and get it done? Can I find peace and a sense of calm while I am working? My work right now is specifically related to housework (ugh). But I wonder if I can shift my mentality of it so that hemming a pair of pants or mopping the floor, or organizing the garage or cleaning the bathroom or tending a garden are simply ways of passing time, not things that are eating up my time.

Why must my day be divided between dreary work and pleasure activities? I need to find the joy in every aspect that is my life, and even eliminate the word "work" from my vocabulary. Although in its original form "work" might simply have meant those necessary things in life, it has come to carry such a negative connotation that I think I should drop it altogether.

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