Taking It Home
Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying. — Studs Terkel, American journalist
Make it a practice to ask friends, family members, and acquaintances what they find meaningful or interesting about their work. What skills does each person's work require? What aspect of the work is most challenging? What brings them satisfaction or joy or astonishment? Avoid talking about job titles, compensation, credentials, and monetary compensation. Instead, focus on the wonderful variety of people and jobs there are in the world.
Read aloud or silently the Walt Whitman poem, "I Hear America Singing," written in 1860:
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work, The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
You can also listen to the poem recited on Community Audio.
Write a poem or song, or create a piece of artwork that lifts up the "singing" you have heard when you ask people what is meaningful about what they do for work.
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