This I Believe

Pam - Agoura Hills, California
Entered on November 18, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: work
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This I believe

I believe in hard work and working hard. I believe work is life – a big part of it. I believe those without a job to do are aimless and lost. I believe work is more than the sum total of the end product. I believe self worth is earned. I believe rest is overrated.

I believe the Puritans had something. I believe in the value of a hard day of work, a hard job to tackle, a tough assignment, the back ache or mental strain at the end of a long day. It goes against popular thought, conflicts between personal space and the job. It rubs against the notion that rest is good, work is drudgery and retirement is the dream.

I watch ageing employees struggle to embrace the notion of a workless life with trepidation and fear. They know the obvious – that life without work is one step closer to death. They fear a life without purpose or meaning.

I grew up loving school work and working hard. I spent nights and weekends reading and studying. I remember the time when a teacher asked if I had done the extra work to complete a problem and I hadn’t. I was ashamed and realized that just a little more work would have made all the difference between shame and pride. When I decided on a career in medicine, the horror stories about the long hours rang on deaf ears.

Now, I hear about the need to balance personal and professional lives. I come from a tradition in medicine that has seen a revolution. Doctors need personal lives, they shouldn’t marry their practices and long hours are distained. But the rewards may be lessened as well. The opportunity to visit the patient on their death bed may come on someone else’s weekend. The patient with the heart attack may need help at the end of a busy day. Of course, the family calls. But the patient won’t remember the doctor in the same way and the personal satisfaction isn’t the same.

Family and friends need work too. Raising young children is one of the most exhausting jobs I have ever done. Keeping in touch with friends can feel like work after long days and sleepless nights, but worth every minute.

Work is not a four letter word. In the spirit of our ancestors, we need to celebrate it. I believe our life work defines us and makes us whole.