Work as Pleasure

Reading, writing, life

On impulse, I picked up a copy of Life Work by Donald Hall. A poet, children’s author, short story writer, and essayist, Hall extolls the pleasure of work, the satisfaction of meaningful production, the identity of self reflected in labor. He rakes through the history of work and workers, seeing these endeavors as a great life anchor. He focuses on his ancestors with their pre-dawn to dark manual labor. He turns to contemporaries and examines their thoughts on creative, productive days.

For months I have been toying with the idea of retiring, “not working.” That is to say, of no longer reporting to a place of paid employment where I sell my time and talent. Of course yard work, animal care, and gardening are excluded. Those tasks are assumed out of pleasure.

The thought of pleasure resonates. Work as pleasure. Work that keeps one busy, sometimes stressed. Work that fills days with activity and focus. Work to be remembered when the body dissolves. Humm. Work . . .


  1. Most people don’t realize that fishing is actually work. Believe me, it’s exhausting! I come home worn out and smelling like raw shrimp that’s been simmering on a hot car hood for a week. Writing is the same way (except without the smell–I hope). But there’s a great sense of accomplishment, and pleasure, when you succeed at either of those activities. In fact, I don’t have to catch fish or get a story published to derive pleasure. Just participating is enjoyable.


  2. This is the kind of work Rob and I are planning to do when he finishes his job overseas. Just because we’re leaving our jobs doesn’t mean we won’t be working 🙂 This will be the second time he’s “retired”, ha. Geting a derelict farm/homestead up and running will be genuine work in my eyes.


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