In the end, all that you have to do is Do The Work.
Elections go bad, species are killed off, rivers are poisoned. Small victories are won, children are read to, wounds are healed. It’s all, as someone once said, real. It’s all metaphor. There’s always more.
And absent grounding, it can become all too easy to be blown about like an Autumn leaf: miserable when things go from bad to worse, frentic with joy when they go from from good to better. And neither is helpful, is it? Not helpful to you and not helpful to The Web of All.
We Pagans often refer to “The Work” (or sometimes to “The Great Work”) meaning spiritual and magic work. A daily practice. Turning the Wheel of the Year. Honoring the Goddesses and Gods. And that’s part of what I mean when I say that, “In the end, all that you have to do is to do The Work.”
But I also mean that you have to do Your Work. First, you have to figure out what Your Work is. And then you have to do it. On the good days. On the bad days. On the days in between the two, the “mundane” ones, the ones where it seems that you’ve been getting up every day for aeons and pushing your own familiar boulder up your own familiar hill.
You’re not here to set everything right. You’re not here to undo ten thousand years of Patriarchy all on your own. You’re not here to save everyone, every species, every river. But you’re not insignificant. You’re not without a mission. You’re not without an important role to play. And that role is Your Work.
What is Your Work?
Your work is that thing that Joseph Campbell was talking about when he said that:
[I]f you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
Your Work is that thing that K. Gibran was talking about when he said that:
You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons,
and to step out of life’s procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.
When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?
Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.
My Work is the law, written language, my G/Son, my own tiny Bit of Earth, and undermining the Patriarchy every chance I get (and I get a lot of chances). Your Work may be making art, or cleaning pots in a soup kitchen, or raising your children, or growing vegetables. Your Work may be dance, or physical therapy, or math. Your Work may be helping non-profits, or preparing communities for disaster relief, or counseling confused couples, or keeping library materials organized. Your work may be growing palm trees, or prosecuting criminals, or making sandwiches.
And even on dark, cold mornings when it seems as if it’s all gone wrong, The Work remains. The Work can ground you. The Work can make the blood start moving again in your veins. And The Work can be, as a friend reminded me today, the making of you. You don’t always have to like The Work. You don’t always have to feel that you’re making progress on The Work. In the end, all that you have to do is to Do The Work.
The rest is in the hands of the Goddess. Your job is simply to put the woven thread, the mined minerals, the well-raised seeds into Her hands.
Do Your Work.
Picture found here.