Labor Day. What a concept. The celebration of the average worker. In
holiday rose out of the union movement of the late 19th century.
Then, in 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed Labor Day into law setting
aside the first Monday in September in recognition of workers’ contribution to
the well-being and success of our country. America
So today we celebrate Labor Day with parades and speeches and, somewhat ironically, with a day free of labor. And that alone, for most of us, is a cause for celebration. For it would seem that the underlying premise, the nub of the holiday, is that work is hard--giving birth, digging graves, planting crops, picking cotton, erecting skyscrapers—and for that reason deserves to be honored.
Agreed. But how about this? Work, even when difficult, can be a reason for getting up in the morning (willingly, eagerly) and a reason for living. I’ll grant you, this doesn’t happen to everyone everyday, but if you’re lucky enough to take joy in your work, you know that while the difficulty doesn’t disappear, it doesn’t matter. The work lifts your spirit, and that is what matters.
As poet Robert Frost, loosely paraphrased, once said, “Writing a single line of poetry is harder work than scrubbing a kitchen floor on your hands and knees.” His many published books testify he didn’t let difficulty deter him from doing his thing. So I guess we can infer that in his work, Frost was one of the lucky ones.
And leapfrogging from there, so are all of us who engage in the demanding but fulfilling work of creating something out of nothing. For writers that means producing, one word at a time, stories that regale, delight, horrify, anger, amuse and entertain our fellow travelers. No mean feat.
So to writers everywhere, may I wish you a well-deserved Labor Day!