There is nothing more disheartening than endless futile labor or doing something you absolutely loathe or have a fundamental problem with. As you might recall, Sisyphus was condemned to an eternity of rolling a rock up a steep mountain incline only to have it roll back to the valley again once he got it to the top. On his way back down the mountain, he had to think about his existential position.
Looked at in another way, work is applied effort. It is what we put ourselves into…whatever we expend our energy on for the sake of accomplishing something. Work in this fundamental sense is not what we do for our living, but what we do with our living.
Happiness resides in activity, both physical and mental. It resides in doing things that one can take pride in doing well. Those who have missed the joy of work, of a job well done, have missed something very important.
All work can be done well or it can be done poorly. All work can be done cheerfully and with pride or grudgingly and with distaste. Whichever way we do it is really up to us. It is a matter of choice. There are no menial jobs. Only menial attitudes. In the theatre we say there are no small parts, only small actors. Our attitudes are up to us. A laborer is worthy of his hire.
As Sisyphus presses his face against the rock, each atom of the stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain itself forms a world. The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
2 thoughts on “Work”
I too find that accomplishment gives happiness as one reward. I cannot imagine Sisyphus happy no matter how hard I try. The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart . . . until the boulder rolls down again and again and again!
Hi Timi. Thanks for your comments. The reference to Sisyphus in my post is from an essay by Albert Camus, “The Myth of Sisyphus.” When I first read this essay as a young man I read it one way. As I read it again after a lifetime of working I read it differently. I don’t disagree with you that the boulder rolling down the mountain endlessly is a true bummer. The conscious knowledge of that fact is what Camus calls the absurd. What Camus means, I think, by imagining Sisyphus happy is that the work itself is reward enough. Have a blessed day and please stop by again.