To labor in freedom

Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.
— Albert Einstein

For me there is something particularly freeing about work that is not a job. When Paul and I bought our house we did so with an eye to having dogs in a fenced yard that boasted a garden which provided respite from the challenges of daily life. The summer after we purchased our home, we dug a 420-foot long 10-foot wide garden. We removed soil to a depth of two to four feet, depending on its composition and amended it with peat moss and sand. When we finished, we could easily shove a hand six to 12 inches into the soil to plant a bulb or to just show off.

6500_1097698854439_1585664913_30268540_2422555_nFor more than two decades we lived off the benefit of that work. Everything grew well. I think it is time to dig the beds deeply once again. But I am not sure I am physically up to the challenge or even what to do it. That said, I remain very hesitant to hire someone else to do the job, not because they would not do a good job or at least an adequate one, but because it somehow does not then seem freeing.

The world is full of willing people, some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.
— Robert Frost

As an undergraduate and graduate student I studied Freud along with many other personality theorists. I was at once fascinated by Freudian theory and repelled by it. He named my inner conflicts and posited a rationale for my struggles in life. On the flip side of that coin, I had failed some important milestones and was a pathological mess. Not so with Alfred Adler, at least as I was taught about him back then, first in educational psychology and later in classroom management and personality theories. What struck me particularly – the thing that I have taken with me for all these decades – has been the notion of three important tasks or achievements between cradle and grave: occupation/work, society/friendship, and love/sexuality. I particularly liked that these three things were not see as three separate constructs, but factors of a single construct of the individual in society.

When I think of my encore work, I have taken the opportunity to reflect on the work I have enjoyed in the past. Memories of Saturday morning house work, teaching at the university, coaching wonderful people, gardening with Paul – these all combine a sense of love, society, and work. They come together as one.

2 thoughts on “To labor in freedom

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