This essay, minus the memes, was my first assignment for grad school. And my first Sunday night of paying for all-week procrastination. So it may or may not be crap. It’s supposed to be 500 words about what I believe in. Just like dis podcast. Enjoy!
I Believe in Work.
I scrubbed my bathroom floor the other day. Painstakingly worked polyester bristles into stained grout in tight linear motions. An overzealous application of bleach and elbow grease relived the tile of its grime. The process gave me, and the dog, mild chemical burns, but that’s not the point. The rest of the evening, I smiled a bit when I walk past this bit of floor. I’d flick the light on, and admire how the light ricocheted off the walls and floor.
The pleasure I took from this clean floor was not the floor itself, but the fact that I got the sparkly ceramic through hard work. I like scrubbing. I believe in hard work. I enjoy writing lists of tasks, crossing them off one by one- even though I always draw a box that remains unchecked. I believe that order can be brought from chaos, bit-by-bit, list-by-list.
I travelled with the President of the United States for almost six years. The United States of America is not a behemoth machine, nor is it some all-powerful entity. This great nation, and any nation on our little blue planet, is people. Working. Crossing off boxed tasks, one by one. I don’t believe in governments, companies, and organizations. It’s all people. Ever facet of the whole world can be boiled down to one person somewhere making decisions, and getting things done.
People are complicated. Work is simple. I don’t always understand people. But work? Work I understand. And it is through work, that I can understand other people. People’s words don’t mean much, and most of the time I don’t believe anything anyone tells me. I look at what people do. I search for what they create. How a person completes a task will say more about them than they could ever articulate.
I believe in work it all its forms, a noun and a verb, small work, big work. Clean floors to international politics, when a task is created or completed, it becomes something else. That’s why the process of birth is called labor. Work is sustains life, it is life. Work makes for a pretty dope incoherent Rihanna song.
A fundamental belief in work is a harsh worldview. Believing in work alone rules out fate, luck, or destiny. I’m not sure if there’s a higher being guiding our paths, protecting or punishing us. Believing that your life is not random, but a product of your efforts, hangs the burden of success upon your shoulders alone. When things don’t go right in my life, I truly believe that is my fault. That a bad result is due to something I did, or failed to do. Like being a lapsed Catholic, there’s a lot of guilt and judgment. However, believing in the value of work is recognizing worth of personal responsibility, and it’s difficult to argue against self-reliance.
It’s odd to know that what most people need motivation for, is what I find most motivating. Yes, I work to pay the bills like anyone else. No, I don’t enjoy every menial task. Beyond economy, a different transaction takes place. My deepest joy comes from a job well done. Through work I establish my independence. Through work I claim my identity. I declare my character without saying a word. And no one can say my floors aren’t beautifully clean