I don't expect to be reincarnated,
so I'll blog about dying and death (with appropriate irreverence) while I'm still alive.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Will work keep you alive?

"Arbeit macht frei" is a German phrase that can be translated as "work will make you free."  The phrase was posted at the entrances to several Nazi concentration camps, most notably Auschwitz.

Most of the slave workers who avoided the ovens, gas chambers and deprivation were freed by the Allied armies -- not by the work they were forced to do for Hitler.

However, some of the workers who had special skills -- ranging from singing to missile-making and forgery -- were kept alive by their important work, and ultimately freed when the Nazis surrendered.

Even outside concentration camps, work can keep people alive. And, perhaps the lack of work hastens death.

I’m scheduled to become 65 next spring and thought I’d be retiring — not running a new book publishing  business.

OTOH my father’s father sold his shirt-making business to another company when he was 80. He was forced to retire at age 85, and within a few months he was in a nursing home, and then dead.

He told us he had no reason to get up in the morning.

Last year my father announced that there was nothing left on his to-do list, and he was ready to die, and he did (at 86).

It’s important to have a reason to get out of bed — and I think writing and publishing are great reasons. I get out of bed to start my workday at 3:30 a.m. — but that’s probably not right for normal people.

Arbeit macht mich lebendig  (work makes me alive).

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