Monday, September 05, 2005

Defining labor

This afternoon, while enjoying my Monday off on the porch of a coffee shop, I overheard a conversation that changed my definition of labor. I'd spent this Labor Day Weekend doing soul-labor: painting, writing, playing fetch with my dog. These are all good things, however these things seem to be the first casualties of the work week. I was proud of the way I spent my reward for working through a busy summer. Then the conversation started.

I'd originally noticed one of the two men while ordering. He was the catalog model for wealth. Everything from his shoes to his triple latte. The second man looked as though luck had beaten him, spit on him and repeated. Then, I watched both men shake hands, sit down together and begin talking. The conversation started out with small talk about the weekend and just as I was trying to figure out how these polar opposites knew each other, I learned that they'd both just been at the same meeting for the same problem.

I drifted away from their conversation and wondered what those meetings are like. I was brought back to the porch when the wealthier man stated that "this is the hardest and most important work I do." He talked about how planning for retirement at work is much different than planning for a good life without the worries and troubles addiction brings. He mentored the other man and encouraged him.

I continued to listen, not only because I was nosey, but because I was lucky to overhear such an inspirational and important exchange. They both talked about how hard it is, just getting through the week. Much harder than I could ever know. They talked about stress and disappointment and God and I realized I stress about and am disappointed by all the wrong things. And I realized these two men, whose first impressions were nowhere near reality, knew more about faith than I ever could. I was humbled. Flattened to the point of hope.

Their conversation (at least my eavesdropping) ended when triple-latte man offered his friend a ride home.

I couldn't have asked for better labor for my soul on a Monday off. And overhearing these two men speak - bookended by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - I am reminded how much true work is done nowhere near a desk.


Blogger Caroline Quissell said...

Wow. What a fantastic entry.

I love it when we are reminded, through others, of what's really important.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Nutt said...

I really enjoyed this entry, Andy. I spent much of the weekend thinking through the "noise" around me and realizing how blessed I was. Thanks for summing it up in a wonderful way.

2:39 PM  

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