Labor Day

September 6, 2010

Labor Day

Labor Day

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of happy destiny”…

I don’t know about you, but part of me doesn’t like Labor Day* Monday—not one bit. It feels like the “End-0f-Fun-Day.” Labor Day means:

Summer’s over.
No more beach swims.
No more warm nights.
No more fresh-picked fruit.
I’ve got to get a kid off to school.
(Or, worse still: “I’ve got to teach school.”)
Work is going to be a bear tomorrow.
I’ve got to pay a gazillion bills.
I have to get back on a diet.
I better make more money or else.
No more veggies right off the vine.
I’ll be living on canned chili soon.
I have to put away air conditioners.
My back hurts already.
The trees are dying!
My sinuses are acting up.
I’ve got to sort through clothes.
I have to start blowing dead leaves.
I’ve got to get heating oil.
The furnace needs a clean-out, too.
So does the fridge.
Do I need medication for this?
It’s already dark at 8—soon it’ll be 4.

And on, and on… the inside of my head starts to sound like a wood chipper.

When I get like that, it feels like the fun ends promptly tonight at 11:59. Nevermind actual labor—I’m tired just thinking about it.

What if, whenever I get myself worked up into a snit, what if a miracle were to happen? What if I were to see—for instance—a beautiful sunset? It could happen. It could be tonight. Tonight’s sunset might be more perfect than any painting I’ve seen. It could be the kind of sunset that stops everything, reminding me that beneath the surface of this list of overwhelming things I’m powerless to control, perhaps there is beauty, perfection, rhythm, grace and order to all of it.

It might be at that point that I remember: “Oh, that’s right—I’m in a process of change.” I might be reminded that I’m moving from a life of keeping a close eye on what’s wrong, to one of appreciating every moment of what’s right. It could be that this particular sunset might remind me that it’s not my job to stack up every obstacle I can possibly foresee and then conclude it’s all too much.

This perfect sunset might remind me that my job is to turn and face the perfect sunset. My “assigned labor” for this Labor Day might be to let the setting sun wash over and through me. Perhaps, one day at a time, I’ll be shown a way to experience joy and happiness inside, no matter what my external circumstances. After all—tomorrow is just another day.

Maybe I’ll remember my manners and just say, “Thank you, and good night.”

Happy trails!

* PS A little Labor Day history: the holiday was originally created in the 1890’s to mollify enraged labor unions after some 12,000 soldiers and lawmen descended on Illinois (at the bidding of railway owners) to break up a railroad strike. The strike, which turned violent, was deemed by then President Grover Cleveland to be “interfering with the delivery of the U.S. Mail.” They made sure the mail got through, all right, opening fire on the crowd and killing 13 workers and wounding dozens more. Maybe they should have called it “The Mail Must Go Through” Day. Something to bear in mind when I receive Tuesday’s mail—whatever it may bring.