Sunday, November 25, 2012

In praise of work

The holiday season is the time I most often hear people say, "The only thing that matters in life is friends and family!" Or: "At the end of our lives, no one ever says, I wish I had spent more time at the office."

I am here to write in praise of work.

Yes, friends and family matter to me.  Perhaps they matter most.  But they are not ALL that matters, not by a long shot.  I took a walk with one of my friends the other day. Like me, like most of us, her Thanksgiving with her family had been decidedly "mixed": some good, some bad. In her case, the bad was overwhelming in her thoughts at the moment.  She wailed to me, "The only thing I ever wanted was a happy family, and I didn't get it!"

I wanted a happy family, too. Sometimes my family is happy, and sometimes we're not. But this is not the ONLY thing I ever wanted.

I also wanted to write. I love writing deeply and fiercely. I love writing because it is a a creative activity that brings me great joy, and it's also an activity that is completely under my control. I can't control how the world receives my writing - whether I get published or whether my books, once published, garner awards and sales. I can't even control the quality of my writing - I know I can't write a book as good as I'd like for my books to be.  But I can control the quantity of my writing, and the frequency, and I can learn all I can to make my books as good as I can possibly make them. I have truly loved every single hour over the last five decades that I've spent with pen in hand, putting words on paper.

At the end of my life, guess what?  I'm going to say that I wish I had written even more books, I wish I written even better books, I wish I had stuffed my life even more full of the creative joy of writing.

I'm going to hope my family and friends are beside me at that hour, too, and I'm going to tell them how much I love them, and how I wish I had been a better wife, parent, sister, friend.  I'm going to hope I meet them on the other side, in that bright and beautiful place.

But I hope that in Heaven, I'll be writing, too.


  1. This is beautiful! And just what I needed to hear today. Thank you!!!

  2. Thanks, Claudia. Family life has changed so much since when I was younger
    that it often leaves me bewildered...The pace of life, too, strikes me as odd. But I love books- they stop time in some way and provide an alternative space/time to live in. Writing, too.

  3. Great - and might I add that your family loves you because of who you are and have become and your work is a huge part of that...

  4. Gosh. How'd I get so lucky, getting to know you? And your books, your grace, fun, and wisdom shining through the words.

  5. I always feel profoundly guilty on holidays (guess that's Irish Catholic for you), because I'm less active in every way. If holidays are truly holidays, profound and holy, then they are a time for love, and love is best expressed in action. Work, play, rest. They support eachother, they don't compete. Love this post, especially transitioning from holiday back to the semester. Thanks, Claudia!

  6. Well said. And the family and friends I love and who love me back, know this.

  7. Amen. I don't want relationships with friends and family to be the only thing (or even necessarily the most important thing) in my life--I want something that's just mine, too, and work is one of those things.

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