Monday, April 19, 2010


My first day as a bookshop employee found me staring at a huge wall of books that I was supposed to alphabetize. I naively asked, "All of them? You want me to touch EVERY book to be sure it's in the right order?" The answer was a definite yes.

The thing that stands out most for me from that day 16 years ago is that some things are just tedious but must be gotten through. It was a turning point in my attitudes about work. There have been many points along the way, but that one was significant.

Every day has its own list of things to do, as well as the old standbys (tooth brushing, dressing, bed making, cooking, cleaning, etc.). When my waking thought is dread about having to get dressed, then I am probably on a course for a rough day. These minutiae are work; many are habit and we forget the work necessary to make the habit. If I'm dreading the minutiae before I even sit up in bed, then how am I going to enjoy the bigger projects. Let's face it- those bigger projects are also work.

My lesson I brought from that day in the bookstore is that I can surrender to the task at hand and enjoy it. The quiet monotony of slipping a book over one space or up one shelf is very similar to pulling weeds from the lettuce bed or washing dishes or brushing Phaedra's hair. I can do it roughly with a scowl, I can do it half- heartedly with resignation, or I can do it with quiet satisfaction. I choose feeling satisfied over irritated or resigned, and since I get to choose how I feel, I just don't mind work. I even enjoy it.

What I did this weekend-
I planted (with a little help) 12 raspberries in a bed I cleared of ground cover, 3 rose bushes, 2 sugar maples, 1 mulberry tree, 8 elderberries, 2 high bush cranberries, 2 Juneberries, 2 nanny berries, 4 currant bushes, 4 gooseberries, 2 chestnut trees, 2 shagbark hickories, 2 honey locust trees, 20 blueberries, and a row of carrots.  It snowed on me a couple of hours Saturday and rained on me the whole rest of the time, but I'm mighty handy with a shovel these days!

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