Monday Escape: Nothing wrong with honest work

 Phillips 66 filling station, Route 66, Missouri, USA. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

In the States, many of us don’t really need an ‘escape’ today; being Labor Day, it’s a holiday for most folks, something I’ve always found amusing since the day purportedly celebrates the value of work, which is a very American thing to be concerned with. Whatsoever thy hand finds to do, do it with all thy might—until recently, we’ve taken that very much to heart! Work is a good thing, not a curse. One of my favourite quotations, one that has repeatedly come to my mind throughout my life about this topic comes from Martin Luther King, Jr., whose most famous speech we celebrated last week on its 50th anniversary; this is from another:

Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

Ah, but that’s more than enough chatter (from me, anyhow—Martin Luther King, Jr. is quite another matter); the gardens are crying out for help from the weeds forever invading their rich soil. (See? Work. Not my usual Monday work, but work nonetheless.) Enjoy your day, whatever you find yourself doing, and when you are done, don’t feel a bit ashamed about enjoying an ice cold drink the way the fella standing on the porch of the old Phillips 66 filling station he was helping to restore is doing.

Have a marvellous day!


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