At some point in my late teenage years, I read a book called The Prophet by Khalil Gibran.
Gibran is a Lebanese-born poet, writer, and artist who lived from 1883 -1931…📖
And, while he was quite prolific during his career…
The Prophet is one of his most famous works…
Having been translated into over 100 different languages (which makes it one of the most translated books in history). ✒
The premise of the book is pretty straightforward…
A wise prophet has been living abroad for 12 years…
And as he’s about to board a ship that will take him back home…🚢
A group of townspeople stop him and ask for his views on all kinds of existential topics like life, death, children, giving, work, sorry, laws, etc. 🗣
What follows is an avalanche of aphorisms and stanzas…
All very simple and easy to read/understand…
But powerful and effective in their lyrical beauty.
And, while there are many great lines in The Prophet…
The one that has always stuck out the most to me is:
“Work is love made visible.”
Because when you internalize this maxim and accept its truth….
Your perspective on everything changes.
To truly understand why, it helps to read this longer excerpt from the same chapter where this line appears:
But I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when the dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.
You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.”
So, the reason I love that line from Gibran so much (that work is love made visible)…
Is because he’s relating our craft to the highest of purposes.
“Laboring” for us is something essential.
Something spiritually nourishing and fulfilling.
At least, that’s how it should be.
And if you don’t feel that way, and don’t think you ever could, then Gibran has advice for you as well:
“And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.”
So, for me, personally…
I try to relate this philosophy back to everything I do…
And I’ve found that Gibran seems to be right.
When I approach my work with love…
It feels like I’m tapping into something primordial.
Something that’s not unique to me…
But that’s inherent in all of us.
I believe we all have the opportunity to do the same thing…
But it’s up to us to decide:
Do we approach our work with love, or with indifference?
We get that choice.
But if you look at virtually every one of the most successful people in the world…
The answer is almost always love.
P.S. If you want to read the full section on “Work,” you can do so here.
P.P.S. This post originally came from an email I sent to my private list. If you want to see more stuff like this from me, you can apply to join my list using this link.