Jan 4, 2008

A Loving Simplicity

Everyone has natural talents. We argue about their various values. What is the value in writing, for instance? Or just how priceless is that clearest communicator in your family or office?

We often equate work and talent. “What do you do?” is a question you might hear often, and you know immediately they mean for a job. There are so many things you do, but when people ask what you do, they mean your work, as though it is somehow essential to your existence.

The problem is the thing we do is often not the thing we love. I detail cars and many people I know wait tables or shuffle office papers. When I detail a car I’m part of a larger process designed to disguise the wear on the vehicle, those who wait tables are providing a simple service to others, and office work might be even more mundane. I find that I can almost always take pride in a job well-done, but just because I can make it a job well-done doesn’t mean I will love performing the activity. Not even the pride in the result can make up for the lack of love in the work itself.

But the problem is not simply that these are not glorious occupations. I find that the things we love are often simple pleasures. People think of art as very complicated, and a natural talent to boot. But in its simplest form it is only putting a brush to canvas, pencil to paper, or hand to clay. And anyone can do these things if they love them.

In this world we call modern, things are admittedly on overdrive. For most people what we do is not what we love, and I was surprised to find this morning that I love chopping wood. What is the value to me of having the wood? Very low. I could probably do some other work and in the same amount of time earn enough money to buy more than that amount of wood. But value is sometimes not a measure of dollars.

On a warm day with a peaceful breeze, the sound and simple beauty of an axe meeting wood can be poetry.

[16 August 2007]


mcdreamy2009 said...

nicely put.
you have a really interesting way of looking at things from an unexpected perspective.
i NEED to go write now.
thanks for the inspiration.


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