Work is what we exchange for money, money
is what we need to live. Work is contrasted with play
, which is what we use our money to do on the weekends.
This is one sense of work: The thing we put our energy into because we have to. To me, this seems to be only the first and shallowest definition of work.
But what about another sense: "This is my life's work -- it fulfills me."
Or consider something semantically more distant: "This works." It functions properly -- it has a rightness to it.
In a second sense, then, my work is my function, the role in which I am at my rightest. And in some kinds of work, we function best when we have the freedom to play. This is true of more kinds of work than we generally realize.
For a person working in this way, work and play cease to be opposites. The boundaries of work, too, are not as clear: It is not something I do from 9 to 5, but something I take on, which is a part of my identity and my being, and which I express when I am at my best. As Kahlil Gibran said: "Work is love made visible."
In one sense, then work is what is difficult and challenging, but which brings fulfillment.
What remains of the first sense of work? Things that bring stress and tension, but which must be done. The big one for me is paperwork. This kind of work is the set of things that must be done, but which are not congruent with my self. But even these things can become play, can become part of us. In the end, we can grow into our necessities so deeply that there is nothing left in life but play.