Life Lessons

Define Work

work: wərk/  noun

  1. activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.
  2. mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment.

workplaceToday is Labor Day, so I’m thinking about work. Actually, I’m also doing what I consider my work, but I am mindful that this isn’t exactly what the holiday’s founders had in mind.

I finished The Boys in the Boat recently and am now most of the way through Hillbilly Elegy. I recommend them both, each in its own way about class, work and who has access to what — work or otherwise. They’ve left me mulling over my many and various forms of privilege.

One such way is in how I now define work. For most of us, for much of our lives, work is about what we do in exchange for some amount of money that makes some amount of life possible. If we’re lucky, work makes much possible, including satisfaction in its outcomes and the time we spend doing it. I was lucky that way. Not everyone is.

I am lucky that way. Work, for me, now, isn’t as much about the “earning of income”  as it is the “achieving of purpose.” It’s not an inconsequential shift, and today I am reminded — again, anew — how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to (re)define work and myself in relation to it.



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