We do not weary of work we like (1912)

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We do not weary of work we like

Discontent and dragging hours accompany misfit

By Frances Shaffer

Pretty soon it is going to be time to close windows, start fires and begin anew, with the balmy outdoor life all out of the story. It is a bit strange the way some folk take the change of seasons — significant, perhaps, of the way they take other changes.

There’s the glorious springtime, for instance. When it comes, some of us want it to last so long, it and its next of kin, the rich, full summer, that we keep track of the time and begrudge the fleeing months. And because we love it so well, the open life and all, it seems to go like a quick-passing cloud. And winter — well, we count the time, but after the first crisp tang of air is gone and the freshness of variety gives way to a long stretch of coldness and shut-in-ness, it comes to be a question of, how much much longer?

And it is mightily like all the things we care for, and the many others tht just drag along because they must, and are accepted because there is no way out. Time flies when we can do what we like and how we like and follow only the things that pleasantly call. And time drags heavily enough when the disagreeable and uncongenial face us.

Do you ever notice how it goes, how you can work and work away on something that appeals to you, with never a twinge of tiredness, never a glance at the clock, and never a wish to stop? But wait until the uncongenial tasks, are at the door, the things that come hard because we do not like to do them — it is then we chafe, grow weary and very, very restless.

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Nature gives warnings

They tell us that nature always sends out little warnings and gives her telling signs in one way and another, if only we are wise enough to read, to know, and then to follow where she points.

Among other things, she shows us the bent of our minds, and indicates the line of work that is easy because there is a bit of herself in it, kindly nature. And when she shows plainly and without the shadow of doubt, do you know that it is the story of the seasons — time flies, when interest keeps pace with time. And nothing makes interest live so well as the work we like to follow.

We have seen the born gardener work from early morning until the sun sank down in the west, lamenting the sorry fact that the garden calls were many, the hours all too few. Tired? So tired he could scarcely eat. yet he dug, planted, tended and watched from sheer love of the work, and never stopped to think of being tired, until quitting time was at hand. And then he knew it.

And we have seen the other kind, the kind that works a bit then looks up and sighs, bemoaning the long stretch of work ahead and wishing and wishing that time might fly and gardens plant and look out for themselves. And it makes all the difference that rests between the sunshine and the shadows.

Heart and mind in tune

Some time in the perfect future, schools and parents, too, are going to pay more heed to finding the true balance between inclination and career, whatever it may he. And when that time comes, there will be less complaint of weariness, less consciousness of monotony, because when the heart and the mind sing in tune with the work, there is harmony everywhere.

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To poke away at a desk when one is longing to be out in the sunshine, working at something, anything that brings one close to nature — well, it is unlikely there will be a song anywhere. And to be out in the fields when one would be at a desk brings the same old story of misfit and dragging hours.

In housework, too — when that is to be the way of life, one ought to feel very sure it is going to be a satisfying, congenial way, because when the weary protests creep into work, there’s an end to contentment.

Once upon a time a man, aspiring and eager to prove his mettle, thought the finest work on earth was the way of the litterateur. And he boldly, confidently, took his pen in hand, waiting for the busy thoughts to come. Maybe genius did not flow quickly enough in that direction, maybe the confinement and the concentration crahfed and irked, or maybe nature herself whispered something in his ear. At any rate, early in the literary game, he decided that there were pleasanter, easier ways than that, and he gladly left the field to other men who heard a louder call than he.

And every day, as he gives his mind and his muscles to the work in keeping with his tastes, he knows that he has to come into his own. And so does everybody else who listens to nature’s warnings and follows the leanings of his mind.

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