Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Labor of Love April 29, 2014

Matilda is her name. Selling high-quality wood furniture is her game. Well, sort of. I guess you could say she assists in the sales of the furniture, although I would argue toward the former.

The seven-year-old golden retriever has been living the dream with her forever people since she was a puppy. Every day, she enjoys a 30-minute car ride (every day!) with her people (Skip and Joyce) to their furniture business, where she spends her days napping in between greeting visitors to the store with bright eyes and a wagging tail. Apparently customers have been known to stop by just for some time with her. It sounds like a dream job to me. And, at least from what I heard mom telling dad earlier today, it has been a dream job for her (and her forever people) for the last seven years.

Longer than that for Skip and Joyce, who have owned and operated the business for the last 30  years. The time has come for them to retire, and do a very sad thing for them – say goodbye. To the business. But that’s not really what they’re going to miss. They’re going to miss the people. And the people are going to miss them. And Matilda, of course.2014-04-29 13.35.44

It all got me to think about this thing people say about doing what you love in life. I’ve always been a proponent of the idea that if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life. That was thrown into question for me today, thinking about the time these people spent working 12 (plus) hour days to run their business.

They rarely (if ever) took a day off since the store was open seven days a week. They never travelled together. And, while I know they wouldn’t change a thing about their experience, they worked. Hard. Their love for the place was stronger than the oak they sell, but that doesn’t mean it went without effort. On the contrary, it was because they loved it that they put in the passion it takes to keep a small family-owned business afloat these days.

“Commitment is an act, not a word,” suggested French philosopher Jean Paul Sarte.

Sometimes it is the act, the effort, that makes the whole thing worthwhile. Commitment. From the ground up, I imagine it to be something resembling the four-legged sense of loyalty (which is stronger than oak as well). Certainly dear Matilda knows a thing or two about that. As do her people.