Doing the work

It’s mid-July, I’m scooping up dog shit, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the day. Perhaps 15 minutes before, I was extolling the virtues of this task to a group of mostly-friends and a few near-strangers, presenting my usual schtick.

Heroic work, I told them. A task for a few brave souls, those with the fortitude to see a job through as much as it could be seen through, and to let go of the idea of perfection. A Sisyphean act, perhaps, but also one that would earn one great esteem in the eyes of one’s fellows.

Also, I hastened to point out, it puts you at the front of the line to wash up before dinner, which is no small benefit on brisket night.


 

For everything that I miss about being a member of the community and staff at Diana’s Grove, I’m not exaggerating one bit when I say that the community tasks are right up at the top of the list. Cleaning up after meals was shared work, and during most events the community also took on some other duties – setup for ritual, cleaning and decorating the dining deck before dinner, cleaning the indoor gathering spaces. And, of course, the aforementioned dog poop cleanup – an important task, given that the Grove also served (and still does serve, in a different location) as a dog rescue.

What made it so lovely, to me, was ultimately that we were given an opportunity to perform an act of service for our friends. In the midst of what was often challenging and difficult capital-W Work, I found a sense of comfort in doing some lowercase work instead. It was nice to have a thing to do that I knew others would benefit from, and more often than not, I finished the task not only half an hour closer to dinner, but with a little bit of clarity about the larger work as well. And perhaps more to the point – if 30 people each spend 30 minutes working, that’s 15 hours of work done. If those same 30 people each spend 30 minutes working together with intention, that’s something even more amazing. Whether it’s Work done in a ritual or a series of necessary tasks being completed, I believe that there’s a certain magic to be found in working together and in acknowledging the effort that each person has made.

That’s one of my dreams for the future with Expanding Inward, too. Thus far our events have been in venues where there isn’t that much work to do, but who knows what the future might hold? Someday, I hope, we’ll find opportunities to bring some more of the mundane to the magical, and the magical to the mundane.

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2 thoughts on “Doing the work

  1. Jo April 8, 2015

    All too true! Thanks for the post, Jason!

    A friend recently posted a Kahlil Gibran quote — ‘Your daily life is your temple and your religion. When you enter into it take with you your all.’ If what I worship is what I spend my time and my treasure on, then it’s the daily, mundane grind of life that forms the vast bulk of my ritual. And boy, do I clean up (metaphorical) poop at work sometimes!

    The Work and the work — they seem so distinct from each other, the boundary lines clearcut. But there’s so little time in my life that I really, truly dedicate to The Work, where I’m able to set mundanity aside and deliberately be nothing but spiritual. I need to remember that the work I do, of my hands, of my voice, among people who would laugh at the thought that we’re “sharing a moment” is also a part of The Work — at least for me.

    Reply
    • Jason Frey April 8, 2015

      I don’t think I had heard that particular Gibran quote before, but I really do love the idea of making a temple of my life. Thanks so much for sharing that, Jo.

      Reply

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