Whether pursuing one’s calling or just paying the bills, everyone must work. From philosophers to sitcom characters, from high finance to coal mining, here are our favorite musings on work and life.
Nothing will work unless you do.
Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.
The first place smelled like work, so I took the second.
—Charles Bukowski, Post Office
I don’t like work—no man does—but I like what is in the work,—the chance to find yourself. Your own reality—for yourself, not for others—what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.
—Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
It’s easier to bleed than sweat, Mr. Motes.
—Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood
Routine is not a prison, but the way into freedom from time. The apparently measured time has immeasurable space within it, and in this it resembles music.
—May Sarton, The Journals of May Sarton
Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called everybody, and they meet at the bar.
If you don’t like your job, you don’t strike. You just go in every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.
Oh no, he’s learned his lazy ways too well,
he’s got no itch to stick to good hard work.
—Homer, The Odyssey (translated by Robert Fagles)