In what has become a well known poem, Marge Piercy writes:
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
Has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
But you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
And a person for work that is real.
"To be of use", from Circles on the Water
“Real work” can take many different forms. Like the pitcher that cries for water, we are made for meaningful work, not to be put up on a museum shelf. Sometimes real work is teaching. Sometimes it is managing. Sometimes it is volunteering Sometimes it is parenting. And sometimes real work means participating in your own rescue.
I have been gripped by the plight of the trapped miners in Chile. Psychologists tell us that, along with food and notes from above, these men need real work. They will emerge from this disaster more whole if they can be “partners in their rescue.” Clearing rock and rubble become real work if it leads to your liberation. This is the opposite of being a pitcher sitting on a museum shelf. It is scratching and clawing for your very survival.
What does “real work” look like at this stage in your life? How might participating in your own liberation be a part of it?
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