I asked a colleague today if he remembered loving his work...if he could remember a time when he looked forward to coming to work and enjoyed it enough to wonder why it was called work. Though he could remember a time, it was long ago. We commiserated about the short-lived gift of loving our work.
It's on my mind this summer, as my daughter describes her first summer job with phrases such as "Every day is a Saturday" and "I love being here" and "I can't believe they pay me to do this." She's one of the lucky ones who followed her heart to a job that seems in every way a perfect fit for her skills, her temperament, and her personality. It warms my heart to hear and see this idyllic match between someone I love and the work that she loves.
And as I ponder the role of parenting and education, I wonder where individuals and institutions find the balance between economic viability (earning enough to support oneself and, perhaps, a family) and nurturing a soul. I often tell my students that no amount of money makes miserable, life-draining, soul-deteriorating work palatable. They rarely listen, surrounded as they are by salary surveys, advertising campaigns, and a consumerism mentality.
The gift of loving our work may not have to be short-lived. But there are few enough who seem to know how to nurture and sustain the gift (assuming they find it at all) as to make one wonder how they continue to hear their drummer on that less trodden path.