I think that one of the reasons I like listening to TED Talks is that the people there unabashedly like their work. It can be tough, sometimes, talking with people about how we should not give over so much of our time and energy to work. It makes sense for some whose work is a paycheck, but to me, my work is a passion. I love what I do. I do more than I need to (though sometimes not what I need to at all) and willingly take hours of my own time to focus on it. I think about school when I’m shopping, when I’m reading, when I am out for a family walk. When I listen to the folks speaking at TED, I feel like I’m not alone, and that I don’t have to be ashamed. Lots of people love their work. They, we, are the lucky people who work in their passion, who have not just a profession but a vocation, a calling. I AM a teacher. Teaching is not just what I do, it’s something I am. That doesn’t have to take away from all the other things I am as well, but it is an important part of me. I am lucky to earn a living doing what I love.
I also know that not everyone has to work in their field of passion. Work is a paycheck and the joy of your life might not be centered in your job at all, without it being a drudgery. I know people who just have jobs, work they do to pay for necessities, but who ARE other things completely unconnected to work. Custodians who ARE gamers or athletes, sales clerks who ARE naturalists or inventors. We can go about the business of making a living without it taking away from our true selves.
But, as it is, I am glad my work and vocation are one and the same. I can talk about my work the same way an artist talks about her work. It is, in fact, work. There is effort and sweat and frustration. But I think an artist talks about work as practice and product. The work is the process of being who you are. The work of teaching and writing that I do is an ongoing process toward, not perfection but, hmmm, toward more work, more practice, more process, more discovery, more failure, more reflections, more experimentation, more work.
I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a reader, a gardener, a writer, a teacher, a sometimes crafter, a baker, a tender of children, a walker, a sister, a citizen, etc, etc.
And I am my work.