Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967-2014
This one’s for you, Big Time.
This whole notion of doing only work that you love has always affronted me but I’ve lacked the articulation to be able to explain my objections. Only the top levels of developed world society can really consider that as an option. Almost all of the world has to labor just to survive. It just has always seemed so snobbish to me to think that people should all aspire to having only rewarding work to do to support themselves.
I believe in the reward of doing honest work in an honest way—that’s satisfying to me, even if I can’t always say I enjoy it. My work is not significant or important on a global scale, and I know it. But I do it pretty well.
I’ve probably told you the story of my wonderful professor, Russ Kelly, in my first year of college. One day he brought in a newspaper article about the wage increase for garbage workers in San Francisco that had recently passed. He pointed out that someday, even if we did well in college, that we may end up doing something like that because it paid well and we needed the money. But he said that a liberal education is for the enrichment of your heart and your brain, and it’s meant to give you something to think about, and a way to think about it, for the rest of your life. And he said that if someday you work as a garbage collector, you can enjoy thinking about Plato.
That’s the kind of advice that was actually helpful.
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