Let every man be occupied, and occupied in the highest employment of which his nature is capable, and die with the consciousness that he has done his best.
Sydney Smith (3 June 1771 – 22 February 1845), English clergyman, critic, philosopher and wit.
The quote came along with an affirmation from Keepers of the Wisdom by Karen Casey. The word “employment”, to me, has always had something to do with Monday through Friday, payday, my resume, even what I charitably have referred to as my career.
Employment, as I have regarded it, is the dictionary definition: “an occupation by which a person earns a living; work; business”. It’s what I do at my assigned workstation on the fourth floor of the downtown office building, the contracts I review, the conference call that I led yesterday afternoon, the negotiations with the prime contractor on the office renovation project underway in New Jersey.
But the Casey writing was about that other dictionary definition, “the state of being employed; service”.
Service. What we each do on our path today. Who we encounter throughout the day. What takes place between us. Kindness. Acceptance. Respect.
Casey holds that these encounters are our employment, the real and important work of being alive, opportunities to give our time and attention, to be present, to give our words and our willingness, to listen in a way that makes the moment, and thereby the experience of life, better for others and for us.