About the QUOTE: A Zen Buddhist proverb says Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. (Jack Kornfield says it this way: “After the ecstasy, the laundry”.) Very few of us escape work in our lifetime, paid or unpaid, enlightened or not. The fires have to be tended and the water hauled from the well; otherwise, we’ll be cold and thirsty and not at all pleasant to be around.
About ME: Former union organizer, social services director, clerk-typist, assembly line solderer, university instructor, synagogue administrator, diversity consultant, and more. Poet & writer. General household manager. Spouse, step-mother, grandparent. Ballroom dance aficionado & occasional yogini.
About THE BLOG:
Labor. Travail. Toil. Drudgery. Grind. Activity requiring exertion or effort (often grave and strenuous). Employment. Occupation. Job. Dull and irksome, exhausting to body and mind. And finally – according to Merriam-Webster’s, anyway – a calling, a pursuit.
Paraphrasing poet Philip Levine: if you’re old enough to be reading this, you know what work is.
If I’m old enough to be writing this, I should know what work is — but I’m not sure I do. Sure, I have my stereotypes and confusions, my clear picture of a very limited number of specific jobs (having done them or loved someone who did), but honestly, what do I know? Do I know what’s going on in the mind of a man who carves precise letters & dates in gravestones day after day? Can I imagine what happiness might accrue to the woman who runs a laundromat? How does the body of a sanitation worker or a roofer or a dance instructor or a nurse feel at the end of the day?
Perhaps together, we can figure all this out. If you have any ideas about people or work situations I might want to consider (especially around Monroe County), feel free to let me know.
In the meantime, check out the entire Philip Levine poem, What Work Is, athttp://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=182873.