Well, it’s Labor Day, and I’m in Prescott, so maybe I should take the day off?
I want to talk a little about work, it being Labor Day and all.
People tend to talk about this or that being a labor of love. I hear it a lot, being a writer and all. I’m also inundated by it every day in the form of little motivational photos on Facebook and Twitter. It’s a bloody flood of bad advice stamped across washed out hipster pictures of beaches and crap.
You know, some version of, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
First off, that’s a metric ton of bullshit: I love what I do, and you know what? Sometimes it’s work! Sometimes I have a deadline even though I want to sleep or go hiking. Sometimes I can’t quite get the messaging right on something. It’s work, and it feels like it.
We’re all so worried about the labors of love that we forget the love of labor. I’ve had jobs I hated–truly hated–that I got through by virtue of simply doing them better. There’s a joy to be found in taking something you could do in ten minutes and doing it just as well in five. There’s a joy in taking those idle moments and filling them with more. In some ways, I’ve found it to be true that if I don’t love what I’m doing, it’s because I’m not doing it as well as I should.
I say this because this whole movement towards “doing what you love” has an oft-ignored corollary: If you don’t love something, it’s not worth doing. It breeds disrespect for the people who do do those things, and it’s a very narcissistic way to go through life. We should find time to do the things we want to do, when we’re able, but we are also–in my opinion more so–vessels for doing what needs to be done.
What needs to be done is often exactly the sort of thing no one loves doing, because, if they did, it would be done.
So, while we’re enjoying our collective day off, let’s take a moment to remember that we owe this world more than it owes us, and those of us who do what we love owe the people who do what needs to be done a debt for that freedom.