I am what most people call an eternal optimist. For me, the proverbial glass is never half empty, but neither is it half full. My glass is completely full; half liquid, half air, molecules and things I can’t see. Any good physicist or theologian will tell you that just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
I love getting up on a Monday morning and starting an entirely new week. When we were young, we were taught to loathe Mondays. Our friends hated to go back to school and our parents were too tired to go back to work. I know now that they were tired because if they did have a Saturday or Sunday off, they used it to complete all of the house work that hadn’t been done during the week. They washed laundry and cleaned bathrooms, and if you were raised like I was, you were doing those chores right along with them. There may have been an occasional game or movie, but then it was back to the weekend chores.
Yesterday, I found myself in that familiar role. I was cleaning windows and polishing furniture. My sister Christine was scrubbing doors while my children were cleaning their rooms. (Or at least that’s what they told me.) I turned the satellite station to old school gospel music and sang like I was still at the Pentecostal church I grew up in. I no longer attend but every now and then, I get an urge for the soul stirring music. I danced (something I was never allowed to do in the Pentecostal church) and I sang (something I did rather well) and I cleaned. From time to time my sister and kids would come to watch me and laugh. The sound of the 5 Blind Boys of Alabama, Tata Vega and Andre Crouch filled the house. As I hung out of a window I was cleaning, I noticed our landscaper was outside working. Jimmy is somewhat shy but very focused. When he leaves my house, our front and back yards look as if I’ve carpeted them. Jimmy’s new girlfriend, whom I hadn’t properly met was with him so took a break to chat with them.
Jimmy was smiling and so was his girlfriend, Marydale. I asked how they met and Jimmy said when he first saw Marydale she was lifting and log and he knew that he had found his woman. Both had had difficult relationships prior to meeting each other, but they both agreed that this time they found true love. I learned that Marydale had been raised Amish, a culture Jimmy didn’t know much about, but I grew up near Amish Country and knew of their strong work ethic. I told Jimmy that I understood why Marydale loved him. He blushed and I told him that he and his brothers were some of the hardest working people I know and that he’d fit right in with the Amish. Marydale agreed and kissed him right on my front steps and quiet Jimmy just blushed.
We have been taught to detest work in a way that makes no sense. Our work should not be a job it should be a calling, a purpose and a vehicle for realizing our divine nature. I don’t want to get all Marx-y on you, but when we work just for the paycheck with no meaning or passion, we become alienated from our true self. Folks in my generation often remark that young people will just quit any job and go to the next. I believe that we are partially responsible. We grew up watching our parents hate their struggle to make ends meet and vowed to make sure we had enough, so we worked the same way they did just in better clothes. Now, we have raised our children to find work that makes them happy, but are shocked when they leave a job that doesn’t give them joy and purpose.
I started out by saying that I love Mondays and now I will tell you why, because when you love what you do, each Monday brings a new week and an opportunity to do it better. With each new sun rise, I can improve on what I did the day before. I can love myself, my family, community and work so much that I am fulfilled in it. My nature, my “species being” shines brightly and my love for life is renewed. I have the feeling I have when love is brand new devoid of the need for control and possessiveness.
I LOVE MONDAYS and I don’t care who knows because I love the work I do and the ways I am able to do it.
· What do you love or can you love about your work? (Hint: How you love your work is how can love yourself.)
· Make a list of how you can be better at your job and what you can bring to it.
· If you could have any job what would it be? What aspects of that job can you bring to the one you have?
Each new day brings new opportunities. Every Monday gives me a chance to do better what I didn’t do so well the week before.
Bertice Berry, PhD