Work is one of the most confusing words in the English language. We talk about “having to go to work.” We want to “get off work.” Why? So we can go enjoy a good “workout.” A professional photographer considers taking pictures “work” and gardening a hobby, while a professional landscaper considers gardening “work” and taking pictures a hobby.
Many of us work very hard at games and sports and call it “play.” Some expend tremendous effort and energy training to run in a marathon. Teenagers who cannot be convinced to get a job or clean their room will submit to incredible pain and struggle at a football camp to prepare themselves to play the game they love. Somehow, it seems, these things are not really “work” at all.
What’s the defining line? The minute you get paid for “work,” does it suddenly lose its appeal . . . or does it immediately take on meaning or importance? When the amateur golfer goes professional, does he lose the joy of the game? Is work at home “work”? Is it somehow less noble, less fulfilling, more demeaning than other work? Is the only “work” that counts the work that’s recognized by others in terms of financial reward?
In physics, work is described as “an expenditure of energy.” By definition, then, anything you do that requires energy is work.
Before I became involved in writing professionally, people would sometimes ask me, “Do you work?” I had to laugh. “Are you kidding?” I’d say. “I have seven children. Of course I work!”
Work is what you do. Whether you’re paid for it or not, whether it’s in the home or out, work can be noble and fulfilling. It can contribute to the health, welfare, and encouragement of others. It can transform people and situations. It can uplift and inspire.
As many have affirmed over the years, work is a timeless and universal principle of quality of life.
It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man.
The world is moved not only by the mighty shoves of the heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.
And your own work—your life’s work (including your work in the family)—is a profound and meaningful expression of your self.