Okay, this is how life works: It’s a surprise party, and the invites are in the mail.

What you thought was going to come knocking or would never arrive at your front door may be interesting but not entirely relevant. Not only will the unexpected come knocking, it will in some cases kick down the door. So, any plans you have to take a vacation from what will unfold in your life are just plans, and, bottom line, our plans have plans of their own.

What we choose to ignore or deny may lend itself to an interesting conversation, but what we refuse to work on is working on us. Our homework in life is the work that follows us home. Our work, to borrow from the poet Dylan Thomas, does not go gentle into that good night.

So now the good news: A good person is anyone trying to be a better person. And the most efficient way to make our work actually work for us is to make it a labor of love.

Trust me, we all fail because we are all frail, because we are all human, and herein is our shared humanity. Our work in this brief life will be physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual — and just when you think you are done, the work has just begun.

Life’s most difficult labor is born when we turn our back on the work at hand.

We all have work to do, and we all have different jobs. No less true is knowing this: Every job brings with it the dignity, not of the work but the dignity we bring to our work. No more complaining (there’s no time for sissies). Life’s labor is to do our work with a warm heart and an open mind.

Hard work is its own heroism.


Noah benShea is one of North America’s most respected and beloved poet-philosophers. An international bestselling author of 23 books translated into 18 languages, his inspirational thoughts have appeared on more than 30 million Starbucks coffee cups, and his weekly columns on life were published for five years by The New York Times Regional Syndicate. In addition to his many other accomplishments, he serves as Philosopher in Residence for Foundations Recovery Network. Find out more HERE.