Commentary: Words to Live By

Remington Write

My first TED talk
Needlepoint — AleXander Hirka’s mother, Zenona’s, workPhoto byTammy Remington

Think of this as a particularly helpful and moderately entertaining TED talk, but one that you have to exert the extra effort to read instead of having it spooned directly into your brain via ear holes. K?

This is The Secret to A Happy Life (which, btw, would have been the stupidest title ever for this piece).

But, yes. That’s all there is to it. Work hard and don’t do stupid stuff.

Hate your work? Find other work. Or find another way of approaching the work that you have to do in order to keep social services from taking your kids away. You don’t have to work. You get to work. See what I did there?

I am sure I’m not the only one who spent years in lousy jobs. Show of hands. We showed up when scheduled — even if the sadistic scheduler had us working eleven days straight (true story) — and did the darned work. We scrubbed stuff and folded stuff and packed stuff and moved stuff around and put price tags on stuff and entered stuff in endless spreadsheets. We ignored ignorant supervisors telling us we were slowing the line down and sometimes we just said screw this and quit (also true story).

But you’re probably getting the inkling that that’s not exactly what we’re talking about when we say Work Hard (and, yes, that’s the Royal We speaking, thankyouverymuch).

Capitalism has brainwashed into thinking that the only work that counts is the stuff someone pays us to do. If I don’t earn money doing this — whatever it is — it’s not really work. Extrapolating from that, if this work only earns me a small amount of money (true story) then it’s not very important work. So it stands to reason that we should only work hard at stuff that earns us a pile of money.



Maybe you don’t have a grand passion. Most of us don’t. I don’t. I did draw compulsively for many years but I was not interested in learning how to draw or paint better. I did it to amuse myself. And yes, that’s why I write now. But it’s still my work. And I work hard at it. Sometimes it’s just loads of fun. But it is still something that I work at with determination and commitment. Even when the words sometimes get stuck and snarled and stupid. But here’s the thing: we keep working. Sure, we take a break to look at adorable kitten videos and have snacks.
Greed - Pen & Ink on Illustration Board / T.RemingtonPhoto byTammy Remington

Or watch some Jimmy Dore. Hey, you do you.

But we come back and work. Hard.

As for not doing stupid stuff. Well, ok, let’s aspire to not doing stupid stuff and when we do stupid stuff let’s make an effort to not pull that particular stupid stunt again. Let’s make a real effort to do or say less stupid stuff each day. Let’s watch what falls out of our mouths. Sticks and stones may break their bones but too often our words will lodge themselves in vulnerable brains like barbed wire. Sadly, those most vulnerable are the ones closest to us, the ones we really don't mean to hurt.

Let’s aim for the perfect, shining No Stupid Stuff Day each morning and figure we’ll just do better tomorrow when we screw it up again today. And when our kids, our partners, our friends, and co-workers screw it up again today, we’ll roll with it while attempting to keep the sarcasm to a minimum. Today.

So there it is. You don’t have to subscribe to anything or take a special course. Just work hard and don’t do stupid stuff.

You’re welcome.

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Covert dilettante with an omnivorous capacity for wonder. Writing because I can't not write. Always watching for the hidden patterns and connections. I don't know I cannot fly..........and so I do.

New York City, NY

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