This whole notion of doing only work that you love has always affronted me but I’ve lacked the articulation to be able to explain my objections. Only the top levels of developed world society can really consider that as an option. Almost all of the world has to labor just to survive. It just has always seemed so snobbish to me to think that people should all aspire to having only rewarding work to do to support themselves.
I believe in the reward of doing honest work in an honest way—that’s satisfying to me, even if I can’t always say I enjoy it. My work is not significant or important on a global scale, and I know it. But I do it pretty well.
I’ve probably told you the story of my wonderful professor, Russ Kelly, in my first year of college. One day he brought in a newspaper article about the wage increase for garbage workers in San Francisco that had recently passed. He pointed out that someday, even if we did well in college, that we may end up doing something like that because it paid well and we needed the money. But he said that a liberal education is for the enrichment of your heart and your brain, and it’s meant to give you something to think about, and a way to think about it, for the rest of your life. And he said that if someday you work as a garbage collector, you can enjoy thinking about Plato.
That’s the kind of advice that was actually helpful."
schnurrmen: Your blog helps me to learn french ヾ(＾∇＾) I actually understand some of things you write, that motivates me alot!
I’m really happy to learn that our blog help you, even if it’s just a little ! We don’t have lot of time to come here, so I’m sorry to not have answered before ~ But you give me a good reason to be more on the blog, thanks ! And good luck to improve your french ! I know that it’s a very difficult language to learn, you’re very courageous !
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost."