The only thing that we humans are going to add to this world, which is constantly being created, is our work, our possibilities for something new to emerge and remain in it after our death. We will depart and there will be still standing the cathedrals, the great engineering works, but also the humble table that the carpenter made and the brick wall that the bricklayer built. We are, with it, little gods, tiny creators. And we are not the ones who do our works, it is our works that make us, those that fill our life with reality and soul.
There is an Egyptian legend that says: ‘Oh man, how little you are. You are born larva and you live larva. But if you work, you will die a butterfly’. The fluid of our intelligence passes through our hands and rests on the things we do every day. That is why blisters on the fingers are more honorable than golden rings. From the point of view of the soul, working is the greatest miracle: whoever creates something is multiplying bread or things, is building eternity through matter.
And that is why the importance of a job well done is becoming clearer every day. And in this, if I may, I would be a bit pessimistic: I fear that the older generations felt more than we did the pride of perfection at work. Today it is measured by what it produces monetarily, work is strictly to earn a paycheck. And things are done accordingly. With which the work loses the best it has: the passion for what is well done, the pleasure of being truly creators who, like the first one, can contemplate their work and conclude that “Everything was very good”
But the fear is that today we have entered the realm of trifle, at the time of the “I stay while I receive the paycheck” in which things are done to get out of trouble or justify a salary. That old craftsman for whom every piece that came out of his hands was something “unique” and perfect, it seems that it has died or is dying. And so it is how the world is being populated, more than of true creators, of simple dismantlers.
+Rainer Marie Rilke. Translated and adapted from Razones para vivir (José Luis Martín Descalzo, 1991).