If you can’t work with love, but only with distaste, it is better that you leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
How does that sit with you?
If you’ve been trained to think about work the way I have, you probably aren’t a fan. To leave your work to beg from others would mean you’re lazy.
We really don’t want to be called lazy.
Taking this quote alone, it seems to be offering only two possibilities: either you work with love or you beg for alms.
Let’s take a step back from these lines to consider more generally how a person could relate to work.
You could work with love. You could work without love. You could work and hate it. You could work and hate the people around you. You could work with indifference, just putting in the required hours.
You could beg.
I quit a good job more than 3 years ago because I wasn’t working with love. What I’ve done since has involved some begging, I suppose. I’ve stayed at my parents’ house for weeks at a time, etc.
One thing I’ve learned, and something I think Gibran might be alluding to here, is this:
Stepping away from your work you do without love can be a crucial step toward finding opportunities to work with love.
It’s a bit counter-intuitive, the thought that we might need to give up work to find a way to work with love. If you’ve got work but don’t love it, you’ve at least got one of the two things we’re talking about squared away. If you give up the work, then you’ve got neither of the two. Which seems farther away from the goal of having both work AND the good fortune to love the working.
A wise man once told me, you sometimes need to go slow to go fast.
To work with love, you sometimes might need to swallow your pride and beg.