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Is The Work You Do Menial or Meaningful?

October 27, 2010

“MENIAL WORK AT THE EXPENSE OF ALL TRUE, ARDENT, CREATIVE WORK IS A SIN AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST.”

—Brenda Ueland (1891-1985)

You don’t have to be a Christian or conventionally religious at all to see what she’s getting at. Suppose everyone took this seriously and acted on it.? Salon‘s advice columnist Cary Tennis observed that most jobs are bullsh*t and people get hired, promoted, and fired based on what kind a of  childhood their boss had.

This quote is from her book If You Want to Write, which isn’t so much a “how-to” book as an exhortation to believe in yourself and discover what lays hidden or latent inside you. Until you do, you don’t know how large or how small your true gift is.   As Allen Ginsberg said of Walt Whitman,  Brenda Ueland is (twenty-five years after her death)  a “lonely old courage-teacher”.

I keep this quote taped to my computer monitor. I find it both reassuring and challenging.

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