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11 February 2006 @ 11:13 pm
Whistle While You Work  
"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender."
- Vince Lombardi

"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work...I want to achieve it through not dying."
- Woody Allen

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work."
- Thomas Edison

"The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The question I keep asking myself is "If I'd known the flip side (see previous posting) was so far away (six pots of coffee, 119 pushups, nearly 24 hours, and a permanent imprint of my rear in the futon), would I still have done the work? My answer's yes, or mostly yes. I've been locked in the revision bunker for an entire day, and it feels good to have crossed the (or a) finish line of sorts. Like a boulder lifted off my shoulders.

1) I really like the way my manuscript looks after its fifth edit.
2) I'm glad to know the world keeps spinning without me.

But what would it feel like to know that the fate of the world hinged on your work? I don't know if I can imagine that, but it's interesting to try.

It is a curious thing though - work. When it's something you enjoy, you feel as if can do it forever. The time races by. The moments blur together. And work's not work. It's...play. Is it fair to say that work can ever be play? Or play be work? And where can I apply for that job? It would be nice though, to work at a job that doesn't feel like a job. To get a paycheck at the end of the month, or manuscript, for something that you'd have done for free.

Still, I'd put my money on the opposite and hope that I was wrong. Woody Allen's thoughts (see above quote) might be the most honest of the 4, with Emerson close behind. Deep inside Woody's quote is the assumption and hope that he'd be able to achieve immortality through his work. That is the great fear, isn't it? That all our work won't amount to more than a used candy bar wrapper. That people won't remember our name. That we'll disappear when we die. That our work won't equal immortality.

Mark Twain offered his thoughts, however dark and direct they may in fact be:

"A myriad of men are born. They labor and sweat and struggle. They squabble and scold and fight. They scramble for little mean advantages over each other. Age creeps up on them. Infirmities follow. Those they love are taken from them, and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. [Death] comes at last -- the only unpoisoned gift earth ever had for them -- and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence, a world which will lament them a day and forget them forever."

Maybe Emerson had it right. Maybe the joy's in the creating, not the creation. The journey, not the destination. The working, not the work. The dreaming, not the sleep. The race, not the finish line.

I think I'll stop now, but I really want to know "What does your work mean to you?"