Of Work, on this Labor Day.

It’s hard not to feel introspective these days. There’s an intangible momentum that lends to ephemeral musings. Internal. Impermanent. You know what I mean.

I’ve been writing about these things for some time now, I’m sure you recognize the themes. Trying to grasp the ungraspable: Raising kids, schooling them, building a life, correcting my failures. Letting go. Trudging on.

My work often feels unknowable. Days pass, time moves, and I wonder how to explain my purpose. How to count my days, record my progress.

Progress. That elusive temptor.

My husband Dan is a veteran. A veteran of Afghanistan, a veteran of war. It’s a big part of who he is. A known identity, and a point of pride. Pride in valor, in purpose, in sacrifice.

And I find myself relating to him recently, in a way that I haven’t before.

Because of progress. That infinite desire. That insatiable goal.

Dan and I have been married for almost 20 years now. 20 years of wildly varying days. We’ve loved, and argued, and nurtured life together. We’ve buried loved ones, rocked babies, and let go of so many things. We’ve let go of so many things.

Even, of progress.

It’s the job of people, of all parents, to let go. Of teachers, and soldiers, both. It’s so painful. And so necessary. And so poetic. The letting-go.

And it’s good and it's bad to reflect on life in his way. You can’t do it too much, too often.

It’s too painful. And you must keep on.

But sometimes, it’s good. Like today, I suppose.

To remember yourself as one person in time. Like all people in time. Heroic, fragile, disciplined, visionary. Making headway, falling back.

Falling away, falling forgotten.

It’s too simple, maybe, and too surreal, I know. To sweep all of history into a single certainty. But it’s beautiful too, it’s necessary too.

Individual heroism. In war, at home; forgotten soon, and also never.

In hard work, in noble work. It’s fleeting, and it’s permanent. It is both.

It is both.

(This photo was taken by a journalist embedded with Dan’s unit in 2007).

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