Labor Day Message: Work is Its Own Reward

September 2, 2013

“The truth is that man needs work even more than he needs a wage.  Those who seek the welfare of the workers should be less anxious to obtain good pay, good holidays and good pensions for them than good work, which is not so much to make objects as to make men.  A man makes himself by making something useful.”
—  Mahatma Gandhi

On a building in Pioneer Square

On a building in Pioneer Square

“In a laboring life, ideas percolate up through the routine of a working day.  Mental space opens and allows for inventive thoughts.  Call it daydreaming if you wish, because it does proceed from a freedom of movement of the mind.  Or call it meditation, because it also entails a form of focused concentration.  Whatever the name, it’s where mental play and physical work coalesce.”
— Dan Snow, Listening to Stone

Work is one of the paths to finding meaning and satisfaction in life.  This is the concept of right livelihood, I think.  I feel fortunate to be working in a library, providing free access to information, and thus supporting democracy.  When the routines of work lose their luster, as they sometimes do after six or seven hours in the public eye, it helps to remind myself of my part in the wider picture.  It’s good to feel that one’s work is important.

I wish you the same this Labor Day.

“The way we support ourselves can either allow us to live by our real values or it can distort them.”
–John-Paul Flintoff, How to Change the World

5 Responses to “Labor Day Message: Work is Its Own Reward”

  1. shoreacres Says:

    You know which quotation I love best, and which I think most true. The one that begins, “In a laboring life, ideas percolate up through the routine of a working day….” Oh yes, they do.

    Happy Labor Day!

    • Rosemary Says:

      Oh, yes, I thought of you when I found this quote. I remember you saying the same thing about your varnishing work and your writing.

      I actually have a mixed reaction to the Ghandi quote. I agree totally with the importance of meaningful work where workers are not treated as mere cogs in a machine. But, I do believe they have the right to ask for appropriate compensation, and that includes not only the actual pay, but the benefits as well. I am all for owners sharing the profits a bit more fairly with the workers who created this value. And unfortunately, that has to be fought for sometimes.

  2. Elisa Says:

    I am glad that you wrote this one. I have been considering the work-ethic, the lack of the work-ethic, and all of the possibilities and personalities in between.

  3. camilla wells paynter Says:

    Once again, Robert Frost’s “Two Tramps in Mud Time” comes to mind. “Only where love and need are one….”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: