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Monday, September 6, 2010

In the US today there is a holiday called "Labor Day." I don't know the origins of the holiday, but many Americans (those, at least, not working) spend it shopping for sales. After shopping, people make their way to someone's house who has a barbecue going in the backyard. Hotdogs, hamburgers, and beer--what could be more satisfying than that. (I wouldn't know; I don't drink or eat meat.)

Much of the world is obsessed with work... work provides identity, income, and pride of accomplishment. Of course, work can often be--usually is--stressful in significant ways. Hence, many, if not most, look forward to the weekends, and to holidays such as Labor Day, to relax, unwind, shake off the aggravation of the work week.

All of this seems rather strange from the vantage point of death. Why stress about work when one is going to end up in the grave? Such pent up frustration and tension seem so unnecessary, if not silly, when seen from one's coffin. Few take the long view, however. Most of us get caught up in the moment, which is not to say that one is fully present in the here-and-now. Ironically, being caught up in the moment feels like life-or-death. Perhaps that is the hint we are not heeding: from the vantage point of death this deadline or that coworker conflict which seems to be looming so large is, in actuality, trivial, at least compared to the matter of one's mortality. Knowing this, perhaps the next time I feel caught in a life-or-death matter, I might be able to take a breath--after all, breath is life--and extricate myself from the realm of stress which, by and large, only exists in the mind.

Labor Day
working hard to
stave off death

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