Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Meaning of Work

My friend Katey posted this gem today, and wow, it's good:

Unser Leben währet siebzig Jahr - Sethus Calvisius (1556-1615)

Our life lasts seventy years,
and if it's exceptional,
then it's eighty years.
And if it has been valuable,
then it's been weariness and work.
For it goes past as fast
as if we had fled from it.

As reader Simon points out below, this is Psalm 90 (thank you Simon!). I've done some very basic research (so it's from Wikipedia...) and German composer and choir director Sethus Calvisiusput Psalm 90 to music, and created a choral piece, which is quoted above. He was also one of the genius types, it seems and introduced a new kind of calendar, which never took root.

What's fascinating to me, looking back a little on this "poem" being posted, is that it's validity and impact remain. It is timeless. People are reposting it on blogs today. It's as amazing now, thousands of years after it was written, as it was then, and it was meaningful to people 400 years ago. Humanity's fascination with the meaning of our lives here, and the imminence of death is steadfast, and goes beyond languages, time, and country.

It also reminds me of the more modern quote about "no one will ever look back on their life and wish they'd spent more time at work." Every once and awhile, we need to take a little inventory of where we spend our time and why. Yes, we need to pay the bills. But what happens when work takes away more from a person than it should? More time, more energy?

I'm happy to put in my fair share of work, and like to be a team player. I am an idealist, though, and want my work to matter. The hours here in this life are limited. We each need to make sure we're making the most of the time we have. It's just a good thing to think about from time to time.

3 comments:

Simon said...

It's a great quote, but isn't it Psalm 90?

"The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away."

Paula said...

It's very similar, yes. I'll have to look into the origins of the quote I posted. Thanks for pointing this out, Simon!

Liz said...

Great post!