While it is good to do what you love, problems can arise when you love what you do.
Yesterday I watched a scene from the film “My Fair Lady”, starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn. The film is a reworking of Bernard-Shaw’s play “Pygmalion”, in which Prof. Henry Higgins turns a Cockney flower-girl called Eliza into a society beauty, and then begins to fall in love with her.
Incidentally this reminds me of when I was at school in Greenwich and went in for a race. When I went to report my position, I was rather taken aback when the prefect shouted “NINE”! I was unsure how to answer this, until a teacher helped me out: “He wants to know your NAME”. What has this to do with My Fair Lady? Prof Higgins lives in Mayfair, which sounds like “My Fair”, when Eliza says it.
Perhaps if I had loved the work of my hands as much as the mythical sculptor Pygmalion, I might have done better at school. The danger comes from loving your work too much. Then you become the slave of your own creation, and it makes a mockery of your life.
What happens if your work is taken away from you? If you’re strong, like Doris Day, who trained from an early age to be a dancer then broke her leg in an accident, you reinvent yourself and start again. If you’re not so gifted, life loses its meaning. Too many people have not lived past their first year of retirement. We should get to know ourselves now, not our job, not what we do, but who we really are. We should find out now while there is still time.
If the prophets and the sages are right and there is a Heaven waiting for us, we will not be spending eternity catching the 7.21 train to the office, or waiting at tables. We will be our true selves, freed from the bondage of work. But why wait until then? We may have to work to live, but we should not live to work.