Sunday, January 13, 2013

Our Work is Our Play

Drudgery is not what our work is meant to be.
Our work should be our play.
~ Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water (pg 199, Waterbrook Press)

Monday mornings seem to have a connotation of displeasure. The weekend is over and it is 'back to the grind'. Or is it? The etymology of the word grind is to 'destroy by crushing,' the very opposite of create which means to 'beget or bring forth, to grow.' What do you do at work each day? Do you destroy things, or birth new ideas and items? 

Now think, what do you do in your 'play' or down time? Often our time spent in recreation (literally re-creation) is very focused. Perhaps you like to trail run or rock climb, both take training, eating well, and dedication. Or maybe you, like me, enjoy cooking. I find it a delightful challenge taking various elements and combining them into something entirely different. There is ingenuity and creativity in bringing forth new recipes. And so it goes -- reading orders one's mind. Writing requires discipline and effort. Sports demand physical stamina, sweat, and work. Playing an instrument requires continual practice.

Not all play is re-creative, however. There are plenty of things one can do in their down time that is really a grind. Things like oversleeping, getting drunk, and 'vegging out' in front of the television or computer can wear down a person's mental acuity and physical initiative. If you feel drained and mentally numb after your day off has it really been profitable?

"Go on with your work as usual, for work is a blessed solace." 
~ Marmee in Little Women, Louisa May Alcott (page 184)
Indeed, work is a bless├ęd solace, it is our play, even. For our work and our play should both be a creative, birthing process. We may receive financial compensation for our daily work, perhaps even for our re-creation (writing, crafts, concerts, and so forth done outside of our daily work). Both work and play should leave us feeling tired -- not with an empty, dull ache -- but because something has been accomplished. 

God created (a work in itself!) work for Adam and Eve. He gave them responsibilities and work the very day they were brought into being. Work was not a retribution for the fall, it is not a curse. Vain toil, resistance to the order we are trying to bring are a part of the curse, but work itself is not.

Have you ever noticed that the weeks you have the most work are also your most productive at home? Work helps us to order our time, to make the most of our freedom. I find that the weeks I have the most hours in the mailroom are also the weeks I write the most blogs, letters, and e-mails; the weeks I spend time with my friends; the weeks I am more dedicated to cleaning my home, or cooking more exotic meals. Our free time becomes more valuable when we have less of it, so we are more apt to choose to employ it, rather than squander it in lacklustre choices. 

Tomorrow is Monday, a chance to see our work as our play. Tomorrow is a chance to revel in bringing forth new things, or helping others to birth ideas and products. Today we can choose to waste our time in vain pursuits. Or we can learn to re-create, that we might approach tomorrow with a refreshed body, mind, and heart. 


~ Johanna


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