Jul 31, 2015

Work Is Love Made Visible

I remember being terrified of speech class and I mean really terrified, although I'm good at hiding that. Any introvert would feel that, I think.  And I specially hate extemporaneous speech sessions where you draw a topic on the spot and you are expected to deliver an impromptu speech for three minutes.  Imagine, wracking your brains on what to say and you're given a few seconds  to prepare and gather your thoughts and wits and stand up in front of the class and deliver those words in a way that would somehow make sense.  Of course, that's assuming you have an idea on the topic.  Otherwise, you utter some few incomprehensible thoughts for a few seconds before you suddenly turn red with embarrassment as you wait out the remaining time, in front of the whole class.  

I was mulling over work life earlier in the day.  And I guess those speech classes still have their post traumatic effects on me after more than two decades hahaha!  When I think about work, this line from one of my speeches always pops out:  

"Work is love made visible."  

That's how my speech started and I had to build up on it.  Honestly, I have no recollection anymore of how I discussed that. I only remember the feeling of embarrassment.  I must have blabbered and stuttered some things that didn't make sense at all.  And so, with not much to do today, (and maybe trying to put a closure on my childhood trauma hahaha!) I researched and found out it's an ending to Kahlil Gibran's poem about work.  It goes like this:

Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. 
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger. 
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine. 
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.   (Read the whole poem from The Prophet)

Beautiful poetry, isn't it? 

And what does it say to me about work?  My work in particular right now?  I remember being smitten with my work when I started working 18 years ago.  Yep, been that long huh?  I was eager and excited to start my first job.  And for the next 5 years, in the same position / level, I mostly enjoyed what I do.  I guess I thrive on doing a lot of things, and things that make you think.  I've always loved the challenge of doing the seemingly impossible, and being pleased inwardly that I have done it, of course with the help of my colleagues.  And although praises are like balm to a tired worker's heart, I was not really hungry for praises.  It felt good being appreciated but it's what I know deep down inside me, the personal satisfaction that makes me go on.  I know when I have done a good job and I don't really need to be told so.

Almost two decades later, do I still feel the same way with my work?  I've been transferred to different divisions.  I've been promoted and I've had more responsibilities at hand.  I have people under me to delegate tasks to.  Sometimes, I miss the old days when I could get my hands dirty and sweat would trickle down my brows.  But now, I mostly stay in an airconditioned office, doing mostly desk jobs with some physical activities every now and then.  I usually delegate the physical tasks now.

I would admit, there are times that I already get bored.  The excitement may have long subsided, but it's not totally snuffed out, yet.  I still love what I do, but not with the same eagerness I once had, a long time ago.

I guess all of us come to that point somehow.  And when it does, it's our attitude that would come in play.  When there is no more joy in what we do, it is our responsibility to rekindle or find that joy again.  Otherwise, if we just work with distaste, we'd better heed what Kahlil Gibran said.  As for me, I don't want to take alms from those who work with joy.  I'd like to be the worker who finds joy in every situation and circumstance. 

In the end, it all boils down to attitude...and a little creativity perhaps.  What do you think?

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