What we’re talking about in Right Livelihood is practical, not some elite pie-in-the-sky bullcrap.
Work is wonderful…
…When it’s not exploitative, of ourselves, our time, our life…or others, animals, or our planet? What’s left? Right livelihood. Craft. Supporting local, eco, ethical. Doing what we love, that’s of benefit to self and others, that we’re good at, that pays our bills (work we love can not be only for the privileged).
So on this Labor Day, let us honor those who’ve fought for weekends (unions), an end to child labor (a fight that must renew with each generation), environmental protections from pollution, worker protections from abuse.
Hope your day is magical. In the article below, you’ll find a reminder of the best of the magic that our work can offer:
Building a craft is hard: it includes finding a way to
1) do what we love (could be a humble job in others’ estimation, that’s their problem), that we also happen to be good at (I may love ballet, but without training I ain’t any good at it), that
2) also pays the bills—and
3) is of some benefit to the underprivileged and our reeling planet.
It’s literally vital work. There’s nothing practical for the commonwealth or our ecosystem in making the choice to think only of money, as too many do (say Wall Street).
There’s no point in merely following our bliss, if it can’t pay the bills or is bad for our communities or Nature.
And there no point in serving others if we can’t take care of ourselves, or lack a passion or skill for the work.
We’ve seen enough of “do well vs. do good” thinking (witness: generations of largely patriarchal exploitation and selfish consumerism).
My mom worked her ass off (multiple jobs while raising me solo), doing what she loved that was of real benefit (teaching, mostly), but was stressed to the point of exhaustion and broke much of her life.
We have to find a way to do all three—love, service, income—if we want to heal ourselves and our broken, wonderful world.
That’s the notion of ikigai or right livelihood: healing our society, making a paycheck, and doing what we have a real talent for—this is not about privileged trustafarians sipping matcha on a yoga retreat in Bali.
(please invite me)