Giving ourselves to a work

Daily Reading for June 19

The act of keeping close to the marriage of our work and vocation is the act of returning day after day, not only to the workplace, but to the physical and philosophical foundations that keep it alive in our hearts and minds as we grow and mature and even as we age and die. To be faithful to a work, we must welcome its vulnerabilities and difficulties as well as the many gifts it bestows. We must find the foundation upon which the marriage of work stands and grows and then through the difficult cycles of human life constantly tend it and nourish it. At the end we may have to have to courage to tend it only through memory, but that memory will be rich with remembered voices and shared endeavor. If we push away the difficulty in work while young or never turn to face it in midlife and hope for safety in the abstract, we will find, as we do in a real marriage, that we are left deserted in our old age, by memory, by those who were never touched by our generosity. We will find ourselves in the company of abstracts, those merely being paid to sit by our bedside, and very far, physically and imaginatively, from those to whom we should have given ourselves more readily.

From The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship by David Whyte (Riverhead Books, 2009).

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