On this Labor Day in the United States, I celebrate work and express thanksgiving for the ability I have to do the work that I love.
Labor Day Essay: An Ode To Work
Labor Day as a nationwide celebration dates back to 1894; a day of recognition for workers and their contribution to society. A day off to celebrate and recognize hard work as a cornerstone of our nation is fitting and I am thankful today that the sacrifice and perseverance of those who have gone before me have helped to foster the frankly incredible opportunities so many of us enjoy today, especially when compared to the thousands of years and hundreds of generations that have preceded us.
When I hear people boast about their own hard work being the reason for their financial success, I laugh. Hard work does matter and matters greatly: the great inventions and ideas that have transformed our society do not spontaneously generate. Yet so much of our innovation is built upon the innovation of the past. The whole internet generation of work, including this blog, is made possible because of a world wide web that preceded it. Without the infrastructure of the past, we could not enjoy the innovation of the present and the promise of the future.
One of the greatest gifts of life is when you can live to work rather than work to live. This is much easier for some than others, but it is a state of consciousness, a resolution, that we can hold firm. I view work as a gift from God, not as a curse, and the value of hard work can be seen on a personal level and on an aggregate level through a flourishing society.
I am so grateful for the journey I have taken, even through the many dangers, toils, and snares I have hit over the years. Each day I hope to learn a little bit more; to be more kind, empathetic, and loving, but also to be more discerning, shrewd, and competent. The amazing thing about work is that we can grow to love it by becoming good at what we do. This is the testimony of so many; what seems a horrific burden can become a fulfilling joy as skill is developed over time.
I am thankful for work today. I am thankful that we can rest from our work, even though our work is never done. It is a great joy to spend a portion of each day writing this blog and I am deeply grateful for the interactions with you, dear readers, over the years, and look forward to many more years to come. Happy Labor Day.
top image: “Chicago: Epoch of a Great City” WPA mural by Harry Sternberg (1937)
bottom image: WPA mural by Winold Reiss found in Cincinnati Union Terminal
This essay appears annually on Labor Day on Live And Let’s Fly