Our Job Is to Get Back to Work

We spend a good portion of our lives lying to ourselves. I’ll spend a few decades working for other people, we say, so I won’t have to work anymore. And the day we stop working, we start dying.


Goals Status:

  • Marathon: On Track. Daily runs are up to 3.5 and 4 miles.
  • Two Square Yards of Earth: Stalled. I did not manage to get any writing done over the weekend. It may be time to abandon the outline and see where Jonah and Christine want to go.
  • 100 Posts: Behind Schedule. This is my 32nd post for the year. I’ll catch up if I can post three times this week instead of two.

Have you ever been laid up sick, or recovering from surgery and unable to do anything? It’s not bad for a couple of days–but when you’ve been flat on your back for a week or two, unable to contribute, unable to accomplish anything productive for your family or friends or others who might need what you contribute, the idleness starts to chafe. You start to want–you start to need–to get up, to contribute, to feel like you’re not just dead weight making your loved ones’ lives more difficult. People injure themselves, lengthen their recovery times, even put themselves back into the hospital for the sake of not being useless. And those who can’t, if they stay idle for too long, become frustrated and bitter and angry.

It doesn’t really make sense. When your body is recovering, your job is to get well. But idleness still chips away at our spirits.

Because getting back to work is more than just our job. It’s our mission, our purpose. It’s engraved on our bones.

It’s not about what we do for our bosses. If all we do day in and day out is trade time for a paycheck, it has nearly the same effect on us as doing nothing. If work is meaningless to us, it loses most of its benefit.

There is something each of us is here to do. There is something you do that nobody else does as well, something that makes you understand why you’re here. It might be caring for your kids, or creating your art, or building a tower, or improving a web site, or caring for the sick. It isn’t always fun, and it isn’t always easy. Time doesn’t always disappear while you’re doing it. But if you close your eyes and imagine what you’d be doing if you didn’t have to do anything, you get an inkling of the work you’re here to do.

That’s the work you need to get back to. That’s what chafes you when you can’t do it. That’s the work that’s engraved on your bones.

There will be seasons of your life when you can’t do the work you’re supposed to do. But giving it up for good simply isn’t an option. The day you do that, you start to die.

Because turning your back on the work you’re here to do is as deadly to your soul as poison is to your body.

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.
  • Brilliant! What I do when I don’t have anything else tugging at me is work on songwriting. Sometimes that feels like an indulgence, but you have really encouraged me to see it as my important work. It is true – whether my songs are any good or ever go anywhere – I’m the only one that can write them. Thank you, Scott. Back at you – don’t stop writing!