On Work . . .

On Work and Working

David Cole is an artist and he’s been one of my best friends since the day we met in 1961.  We’re both Dry Creek boys who’ve never veered far from our roots.

David is a talented saddle maker.  With his hands, he creates works of beauty that are enjoyed by folks across America.

In many ways, David and I work in the same field.  We’re artists.

What do artists do?   They work in isolation to create works of art that are publicly enjoyed.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a leather saddle or a historical novel, it’s art.

Artists are all around us.  They weld metal, build houses, create homes that change the world, teach lessons, paint, sing, lead, preach, organize, harvest timber, sew, make paper, complete an IRS tax return, and a thousand other crafts that combine the hands, heart, and soul.

We are to be respectful of all workers, regardless of whether their labor hangs in a gallery or is a new paved highway.

Last week’s news cycle featured selected sniping about work.  There was the snooty insinuation that a woman is not qualified to talk about work if she hasn’t worked outside the home or “hasn’t worked a day in her life.”

What a joke.  Anyone who has raised a family and ran a home has truly been “gainfully employed.”

The other end of the spectrum is an ill-held belief that women who work “outside the home” are less committed/spiritual, etc.   I’m married to a woman who has taught school for 33 years.  She feels as called to her vocation as any priest or doctor.   She has faithfully done her job through birthing and raising three boys and taking care of a wayward husband.

 Once again, we are to respect work no matter where it’s done or whom it is done by.

“Never worked a day in his/her life.”  What a joke.

I’m reminded of this story at the expense of Sen. Ted Kennedy.  Kennedy was visiting a blue-collar coal mine in western Massachusetts.   A blackened short hard-hatted worker accosted him,   “Senator, is it true you ain’t never worked a day in your life?”

Sen. Kennedy said,  “Well, no, I guess I haven’t.”

The coal miner grinned and stuck out his hand.  “Well, Senator Kennedy, you ain’t missed a thing.”

Work is good.

All work done well deserves respect.

I respect David’s handiwork on saddles and horse tack.  I’m jealous of what he can do.   I’m grateful he respects what I do: playing with words and trying to create stories that grip hearts like a well-crafted saddle on a strong horse.

Recently, I heard a man say,  “They don’t want to work for nothing.”

Of course, this wasn’t grammatically correct.  I live in the capital of double negatives and know how to use them with the best.  (Listen to my country characters if you don’t believe it.)

don’t want to work for nothing.

It’s got two meanings.

“They don’t want to work.”   That’s what the speaker meant.  Some folks work harder at avoiding work than if they actually did it.

However, there is a second meaning: folks don’t want to work for nothing.  They wish to do work that matters.

All of us are inborn with the desire to do things that make our world better.

To create “works of art” that we can smile at and proudly say, “I did that.”

It does include pay but includes much much more.

There should be great respect for work.

Look around you at the artists you’ll see today.

Tip your hat to their labors of love.



It’s a blessing not a bane.

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