Never Worked and Never Will

As a small child, I loved a library book called Storytime Tales – A Treasury of Favorite Stories. The one I liked best was called, “Never Worked and Never Will,” by Margaret Wise Brown.
In my mind’s eye, I can still see the illustration: a group of children gathered in front of a shop counter festooned with various hand-carved and realistically painted water-fowl decoys. The kids are all looking up at a grandfatherly, white-haired gentleman happily working behind the counter. Each day, he sits in his shop with a knife in one hand and a block of wood in the other, carving wild birds. But there’s one thing the children don’t understand. Over the woodcarver’s door hangs a large sign that says: “Never Worked and Never Will.”
The sign puzzles some of the children. The old man explains, “It means that I never worked a day in my life and I never will. And you wouldn’t have to work either, if you knew my secret.”
Unable to guess his secret, they walk away shaking their heads, “The old man’s crazy: all he does is work!”
But a few of the children watch in fascination as he carves the wild geese out of wood. It makes them feel happy to see him working and sometimes he even lets them help him paint the birds.
It never occurs to them to ask what the sign means because they’re so engaged with what he’s doing, they never think of it as work.
And that’s how they learned the old man’s secret.
I am fortunate to have one of those “Never Worked and Never Will” kind of jobs. It’s such a privilege traveling around the country, making one’s living as a 21st-century troubadour, I rarely think of it as work.
Now you know my secret.


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