White Work

Sometimes, as my wife and I sleep in our bedroom, a humidifier in the living room quietly creates what is called white noise, and every night and every day the dependable universe produces a steady stream of what we might call ‘white work’. It’s work that stays softly behind the scenes, secret and silent work that discreetly does what must be done to keep things spinning and expanding and advancing. It’s the work my body, for instance, calmly carries out moment by moment – the balanced moving of blood, the falling and lifting of the lungs, the constant re-creation of cells. It’s the silent work the surrounding air always does, sending me breezes and brand-new oxygen and always a feeling of freshness. And then there’s the endless ‘white work’ of the wide world I live in – the rolling of rivers, the constant progress of winds that work their way without ceasing across thousands of miles, and of course the noiseless, steadfast spinning of the stars. It’s reassuring to me to stay aware of this ‘white work’ – to realize that, while I’m working my way through the minutes of a day, so much silent work is always being done inside and around me, so much steady and gentle effort is being quietly made to make my life this marvelous thing that it is.

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