Happy in Our Work

To put the last first …

Yes … can’t always get what we want
Yes yes … we work as unto the Lord
Yes yes yes … sacrifice, live, die, etc.

But … what for?

How then shall we live and die?

+

Saito says it’s this.

To End All Wars — what Prisoner of War Camp 16 might look like at the end of the affair — is a too-rare Christian-made upgrade on ‘be happy in your work’:

Unless a corn of wheat fall
into the ground and die …

And of course that sounds like ‘work as unto the Lord’ — which itself a’course is also just fine as true counsel for our living and dying …

Depending on the Sower in this scenario.

+

500 years of German protesting, not to mention Bismarck, kindergarten, and two World Wars have tended to … obscure the answer to that query.

Actually, few ask anymore. Half-millennia goes by and stuff starts to get assumed.

It’s farcical now and not the fun kind, what DF Wallace usedta call ‘bullshitty’ — signaling he knew the collegian collegial lingo. Not that he didn’t mean it — but he didn’t say ‘farcical’ either.

The too-common Christian downgrade now is an unthinking unfeeling ‘be happy in your work’ farce — comedy as tragedy, no fairy tale in sight.

Once I was at least minimally grateful in hearing it to know the guy saying it knew it was bullshitty — and he was a thinker and not even one to care if there was collegiate connection. He said bec … sigh … it is what Christians say bec it is what everyone says bec 500 years.

+

Shut up, he explained.
Be happy in your work.

+

Student in a writing class once said he wanted not nothing more than but nothing other than to sit on a beach in Mexico and write.

That’s it.

Granted, he was in his redundantly resplendently stupid 20s but take a moment to take the position and as we do I’ll add he didn’t mean it as something to do with the decade.

For forever.

So I said, OK, here’s how: no mortgage, no other debts to speak of, in fact precious few possessions at all, and while we’re at it … no wife.

There’s like six guys in Mexico who own everything and we’re not one of them. This half-dozen have the land and the jobs and consequently all the people who aren’t them.

[America has a couple dozen who own everything but our population is roughly thrice Mexico’s and we’re over-achievers, so the ratios work about the same.]

It shd come as no surprise the Germans were at one time interested in Mexico, at least if The Wild Bunch is to be believed.

+

What we live for and what we die for shd be the same thing.

+

He was cool with that, and that works, tho I hate the word ‘cool’, and tho I the word, maybe that’s exactly what goes here — phrasing vaguely meaning something good but really just whatevs someone wants it to be.

Point is not whether he’s young and silly; perhaps he was. Point is, if we set life up to match our aim … we can do the same thing, which doesn’t mean sit on a beach in Mexico and write, any more than doing Thoreau means moving to a cabin in the Massachusetts woods.

Being Thoreau isn’t geographic but psychographic, to use the marketing speak. It’s not land or lake but how one does life.

Thoreau’s line, ‘most men lead lives of quiet desperation’ if fairly well known but a bit less so, be the Interweb any judge of it, which it surely considers itself to be on living and dying and everything, is how he also said most men in the long run ‘hit what they aim at’.

Try those on together.

We don’t wear it well.

If the silly yoot’s true yootness was to sit on a beach and write all the rest of his days, the way to go about it wd be roughly as I said.

Dunno if he ever made it — kids those days, huh? — but that’d be about the way, give or take a few cervezas.

It’s OK if our South Border Writer’s Beach is entirely different. Does this need to be said? It’s kinda the whole point here. It’s so much an obvious point the cerveza sellers have gotten hold of it, too.

+

So … aim.

Thoreau’s line … the kid’s line … what’s your line? What’s mine? Ours.

+

Is it a statue erected by the state, with relevant bits including

Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired

Satisfying both his employer and his union, by his actions by the by.

A’course not employer nor union nor actions were ‘his’ — and cldn’t be bec the work itself never was. It’s just called that, by concentration camp commandants among others.

+

Aim comes from who we are so knowing who we are comes before aim.

If we don’t think and feel for it, we end up wearing new clothes.

+

The problem with ‘be happy in your work’ is, as ever, not what’s said but what’s meant. What’s meant is not ‘joy in labor truly deeply you’ but ‘find some kind of okayness in,’ — redundancy alert — ‘bullshitty farcical activity someone else chose for you bec we need more widgets and Lunchables.’

It’s not that ‘be happy in your work’ isn’t correct, it’s that it’s so right that if it were actually happening, it wldn’t need to be said. I note non-controversially it isn’t happening, which is why it does need — ‘need’ — to be said.

‘Be happy in your work’ is goddamn right.

Problem comes when what we do isn’t ours.

 

 

Image:
Highsmith Archive
Library of Congress

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent

Can We Tawk?

Comedienne Joan Rivers’ catchphrase was, ‘Can we talk?’ with all that that entails — its rhetorical nature, the Jewish thing, an implication that at least one of the parties will be better off for having done so … Like God. T’other day a priest spoke of ontological remembrance, the immediate and ongoing memory of past-present-future

Read More »

Hide and See

Something lost, Dallas Willard said once, might yet be very valuable. One’s car keys for instance. He was speaking somewhat in the context of salvation, if I recall … the general point was calling something lost doesn’t mean it’s not wanted — quite the opposite. Yet it remains … until finding its way out or being found

Read More »

Greater Love Blah Blah Blah

Do we doubt locals thanked them for their service? I’m not equating the two. They were wrong; glad we crushed them. Only noting it’s likely they thought as much about such things as we do, which is to say not much. German citizens who believed their leaders, loved their country, watched their sons get on

Read More »

Dark Eyed Life

According to @CitizenScreen, doing yeoman’s* work daily on Twitter* relative to the Golden Age of film, today is the birth date of Mabel Normand, Hedy Lamarr, and Dorothy Dandridge — Normand: New York, 1892 Lamarr: Vienna, 1914 Dandridge: Cleveland, 1922 — which makes for coupla at least interesting, if not compelling or fascinating at the

Read More »

Random

All You Can Eat Adultery

I get all the adultery I want. It’s true. Ask Michele. Thing is, I don’t want any. You may have guessed this, but others may have thought Wha — ? Aye, and there is the (naked back) rub. I don’t want any adultery because I love my wife. This is true, and it’s the main,

Read More »

Missing Dinner

The common phrasing phor life today offers one and sundry the common counsel, Live, Laugh, Love. Jesus responds — preempts if you prefer it precise — with semi-characteristic frankness Love Love Love I say semi-characteristic since only half the time is he blunt, while the other half he’s maddeningly opaque — like the dork in high

Read More »

Closer

Norm’s is the kind of restaurant where across the street there is a long car wash, a 12-unit apartment building, a donut shop open most of the hours Norm’s is open, a strip mall with a “Luxury Day Spa” between the cigarette store and the cut-rate auto insurance broker: “Free SR-22 Filings!” the sign says. It’s

Read More »

Dirty Rotten Scoundrel

Some of my best friends have a problem with the dirty poor. These are the folks below the dirt-poor — which describes a financial level not the person himself. These are the dirt-encrusted, unemployed, possibly begging (relying on strangers, kindness, and a fair economy as much as the rest of us, anyway), frequently transient (the weather

Read More »

Related

People do the Craziest Things

Adam — did he do what he did for love? Did he say, ‘I will join her; I can’t bear to be without her.’ — is that how it went down? He at after Eve; was it because he’d rather skulk around the earth a sojourner and pilgrim at the mercy of the people in that

Read More »

Sadie! Sadie!

Hadda dream that Zadie Smith asked me to babysit two kittens. She and her husband, an older Jewish man, had somewhere to go. He was involved in classical music of some kind, possibly a conductor or composer; seemed like a nice guy. One cat was incontinent, one only inconvenient … Zadie and her mensch were

Read More »

Semi Stuff

Here’s a way to say it — I pay attention, I notice things, I remember, I make connections; my mind moves fast — and long, on the connections. Draw the well deep, carry far the water. [The semi-colon technically ‘replaces’ the period but artfully between the two a difference wd be how a semi-colon can

Read More »

Everyman’s Death

It’s legit unseemly. Our being ‘gutted’ and whatnot by the deaths of people we don’t know. Still, there is John Donne and there is continuity and there is in the end … us. Well, there ought to be but we usually skip not to the end — that bell tollling for we. + Also unseemly

Read More »