Why work hard?

“Set thy heart upon the work but never on its reward”

-my nieghbor, the HVAC guy

I had to ask my neighbor across the street to look at my AC unit last Saturday. I had cut my grass about a hour earlier. Once out of the shower and ready to start writing, I noticed I was still warm. My body temp had cooled down after the work outside but my house had not. Luckily for me, I could ask my neighbor across the street, an HVAC guy, to have a quick look before hitting the panic button.

He said he’d be over in a few minutes. I was thankful. We’ve been neighbors for over 20 years so what were a few minutes? I would use that time to get back to today’s post. Except I had no idea what it was. I am in the process of reading The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. Maybe the post could be something like “There is only one thing worse than not having air-conditioning, and that is having air-conditioning that doesn’t work.” That had possibilities, but not quite.

I felt a bit guilty about asking my neighbor to look at my AC of his off day. He does this kind of work all week. But, I had already asked for the favor so there was no going back. I started thinking about why we work. From there I decided to direct my thoughts to my work. Not my real job. But the work I trying to do at this laptop. I considered why I do this work of writing. Certainly not for a paycheck. Not for the $2.36 I usually get from Amazon every month. Back in my day at Starbucks that would have been enough to buy you a short coffee and a scone. I could certainly be using my time for something more valuable, right?

The knock on my front door took me away from my laptop. I wasn’t feeling it anyway. My neighbor and I headed downstairs to look at the furnace, electrical box and all that is down there that I never pay attention to. We exchanged pleasantries and such as he diagnosed the situation. Strange. All seemed fine. So, we headed upstairs and outside to look at the unit’s fan and control box there. I was edging into panic mode. If he couldn’t find the problem quickly, I thought, it had to be bad. Bad means money. My $2.36 from Amazon won’t buy a lot of new AC units.

I stood outside proudly taking in my freshly cut lawn as my neighbor examined the AC unit tucked behind the house. I was thinking that work produced this sense of pride in seeing my lawn looking so nice. It was similar to the sense of pride I get when I see my copies of Tripio, gathering dust in a box under my writing table. The work that went into the lawn and the book are not debatable. It took work to do both. The relative value of both to someone else is where the subjectively comes in. And not in the time, effort and discipline required to do the work. That’s where the true reward is in all of this. I know what the work took out of me. The price on the cover of any book can not possibly reflect that. Yet that is part of the deal. No one else should know, or even care what it costs one to write a novel, a poem, a paragraph. None of my other neighbors came pounding on my door to demand I write Tripio.

Looks like you cut a wire when you were mowing the lawn.” My neighbor informed me. Well ,so much for my pride. At least when it comes to lawn maintenance.

He took some electrical tape from his tool kit and went quickly to work. He fixed it in about a minute. He was happy to help me out. Plus the smile on his face told me he was pleased with himself. A job well done on his part. I offered to pay him and his response was the quote above. (Not really but it makes a good post).

“May I help who’s next?”

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