This is another excerpt from 50 things that really matter.
When my husband, Matt, was about 10 years old, his grandfather started taking him to the family cherry tree orchards on Saturday afternoons. Matt would work alongside the farmhands, whistling as he went, to let his grandfather know he wasn’t eating any of the cherries intended for the bushel. A full day’s work netted Matt 50 cents, If his grandfather bought him a hot dog and a soda, they called it even.
As a teenager, his dad would call up from the breakfast table, “Two minutes!” Matt knew better than to challenge — he was dressed, fed, and our raking leaves or tilling soil before the sun had risen over the ridge.
I was horrified by these stories during our first years together. I mourned for his lost childhood, thinking gratefully of my Saturday mornings in front of cartoons, slurping cereal. After we were married, though, I noticed how quickly he’d be done with his chores while I was still cursing over the dishes. His focus was intense but cheerful. He got the job done well and quickly because he put himself completely into the task — because he’d learned to enjoy honest work.
No matter if he’s cleaning the gutters or finishing a report, Matt embraces each project as an opportunity for expression. His lovingly stirred spaghetti sauce says, “I feed and nourish our family.” His well-weeded garden says, “I savor my connection with the earth.” Through example after example, he demonstrates the key to happiness in whatever we do. Matt’s lesson: All work — on the field, in the factory, or on the computer — can be honest and fulfilling, it we approach it from a place of devotion.
As Matt has shown me, honest work is our contribution to the community and to the world, the outward manifestation of our soul’s purpose. Just as the trees keep the air clean, give us shade, and shower us with fruits and nuts, so too are we each charged with our task, creating the future, one brick — or compost pile or database or cherry pie — at a time.
By Mariska vanAalst, 50 things that really matter, Rodale Press for Hallmark
Matt and I may have a different approach, but we share a common conviction. Work isn’t work if you do it joyfully and with complete attention. Matt was brought up with a strong work ethic that obviously carried on into his adult life. He enjoys creating … a garden, a meticulous home, reports. And because he has joy, it isn’t work at all.
Today, there are too many people who believe work is a four letter word. Okay, it is, but with a pejorative tone. Too many of us spend more time looking at the clock or scrolling through the Internet or gossiping or sneaking a couple extra minutes before and after lunch and breaks than actually working.
I was never a hands-on guy. I gave up on gardening when I harvested more weeds than vegetables. My gutters are actually garden rows. My bushes have a mind of their own … and I’m okay with their free expression.
But if I take on a task I take it on 100%. True, as a writer, most of my “work” is mental, which is why I tend to tune out people and time as deadlines tick closer and closer. My cerebral muscles get a workout as I attempt to find just the right word at the right time.
Honest work never hurt anyone. In fact, it is a partnership with God and His plan. I don’t care if you’re digging ditches, mowing lawns, a work-at-home entrepreneur, working in an office or factory, designing buildings, are a CEO or even just writing stories, if you whistle while you work (sometimes to yourself), approach it not as a jooob 😦 but an opportunity 🙂 and recognize its God-given value you’ll not only find the hours fly by but the satisfaction is immeasurable.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: A person is not rewarded for having brains, only for using them.