• strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home2/toddwate/public_html/camerincourtney/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home2/toddwate/public_html/camerincourtney/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display.inc on line 1877.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display_block::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home2/toddwate/public_html/camerincourtney/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display_block.inc on line 193.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home2/toddwate/public_html/camerincourtney/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 641.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home2/toddwate/public_html/camerincourtney/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 82.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home2/toddwate/public_html/camerincourtney/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home2/toddwate/public_html/camerincourtney/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home2/toddwate/public_html/camerincourtney/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.

Contemplating Our Work

 
I find myself thinking about work today. The irony that we celebrate it on this holiday by not doing it. The fact that I don’t think we really understand the role it plays in our life.
 
In recent years, in times of unemployment or discontent, a couple different friends have asked me what my dream job would be. That question has struck me as not quite right. Wouldn’t all of us pursuing vocational nirvana lead to a world with about 27,000 travel writers, 51,000 NBA stars, 348 happy gals naming lipstick shades, and maybe one endearingly nerdy guy to do all our taxes? Who would collect our trash? Who would run the convenience stores to sell us Tylenol or Oreos at 2:30 in the morning?
 
I’ve felt similar hesitation when I’ve heard snippets of graduation speeches telling our young people to go follow their dreams and change the world. Hello, generation of hipster fashion designers and Peace Corps volunteers.
 
Is work really all about our happiness? Our super-human abilities to save the planet?
 
Today I think back at what I’ve learned in my two decades in the workforce. In that time I’ve driven to jobs that have required “you can do this” mantras all the way there, and others that have seen me walking out at the end of a full day amazed that I was paid to do what I love. I’ve worked in a closet and in a red polyester vest. I’ve worked at babysitting jobs where the only benefit was an open package of chocolate chips in the cupboard and at others where they match my 403b contributions. I’ve interviewed celebrities and gotten on first-name basis with the office’s night janitor. I’ve spent 15 years at one job and 12 terrifying months without any regularly paying gig at all.
 
In all these experiences I’m realizing that while we work at our jobs they also work at us. Challenging us. Shaping us. Teaching us, if we’ll let them.
 
My very first job in my field of writing was at an internship with a home and garden magazine. On my very first day, my rather stern boss asked me to have an article about roofing trends in the area on his desk by the time I left work. And all I had to deliver it on was a typewriter. It was a sign that it would be a long summer and a job that would kick my butt. But when 4:30 rolled around that afternoon and I was tapping out that article, I felt a delicious little swell of pride. I was capable of more than I had realized.
 
In other jobs I have walked with friends through devastating losses, months when the best work that took place was when I was turned away from my computer and toward the coworker who had settled into my visitor’s chair, tissue in hand. My current job, working alongside people with different beliefs than my own, has taught me rich lessons about my own faith, why the contrasts between their religious truths and mine are important and instructive and beautiful. Getting laid off taught me how much I was allowing that job to define who I was, what I was worth – and that doing so was selling myself short.
 
My most meaningful working experiences haven’t occurred in the bonuses and promotions, but in these small, surprising, and sometimes painful moments of giving, of digging deep, and continuing to show up and be truly present.
 
So when we tell our new grads to pursue their dreams and change the world, I hope we also tell them this might not look at all like what they initially envision. It might just be a lot more mundane, and quiet, and truly redemptive. 
 
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