Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Favorite Four Letter Word

Work fascinates me.

Every time I come into contact with that particular word, it touches a sacred part of me. It’s interesting, there’s this fundamental part of who I am as a person that perks up at the idea. Like a hound tracking a scent. Work is my bacon.

The best part is, once I realized that work was more than a job, once I expanded my definition of the word and inscribed the idea of work into a larger circle of meaning, the way I experienced the world on a daily basis changed, for better and for always.

So what does that definition look like?

Funny you should ask.

Work encompasses all we do, paid and unpaid, throughout our lives. It’s what anchors our life with regular experiences of meaningfulness. It’s an institution that’s a fixture in every stage of life, but it’s also is the best way of escaping from life. It’s an endeavor that gives us the spirit of continuity and centrality and pays us the psychological salary of pride, honor and integrity.

Work is the organizing principle of life. It’s the iron rod in the center and validation of our existence. It isn’t just our plight, it’s our purpose. It’s where challenges ask us to tap into reservoirs of strength and patience we didn’t know we had. Work is how we create fulfillment, limited only by our imagination’s ability to create scenarios that excite us.

Work is a daily routine that ensures our days have a cadence and rhythm of movement. It’s a center of belonging where we connect to the collective human heart. It’s a contribution to the world where we become productive members of society. It’s where we go to find out what our true self really is. Work it’s the prime means to express our sense of who we are.

Work is an outlet for coming alive through the pursuit of our ideas. It’s the thing we do to build a stable life. It’s a platform we use to do art, hone skills, build a reputation and make our mark on other people. It’s a holy arena for our highest self and a home for all of our talents. Work is our necessity, our pleasure and our playground.

Work is where we channel our ambition and satisfy the most primal and sacred fundament of our being. It’s where we practice the act of dreaming, doing and finishing, driving straight to the heart of what it means to be a person. Work is what informs our sense of self, contributes to our identity and provides us with positive personal affect.

Work is what gives us a secure place in a portion of reality. It’s our human imperative. It’s what gives us the chance to be as smart as we are. It’s how we find satisfaction by creating value through toil. Work is how we intentionally mold and fit our experiences in a way that excites us and feed our soul.

Work is the process of creating something for the purpose of human flour­ishing. It is the creative process of operating in the world, making things happen for others in exchange for the stuff we want. It is the collaborative, purposeful spirit of enterprise. Work is the mission and endeavor that captures our imaginations, enlists and transfers our energies.

Work is how we accumulate psychic nourishment, realize our species character and inhabit and intelligible moral order. It is a practice that has internal good and engages our attention. It is what opens us up into a chamber of consciousness that brings some measure of coherence to our lives. Work is done the service of an activity that we recognize as part of a life well lived.

Work is putting our best abilities into play and having the fruits of our labor rewarded fairly. It is being in touch with our environment in a way that benefits our heart. It is the struggle to show ourselves––and the people around us––our sense of individual agency, responsibility and competence. Work is what sums up all of the activities we do that make us the human beings we are.

That’s what work means to me.

What’s your definition?