This one is a head-scratcher for students and scholars alike, the whole world over. The first issue is a purely practical one: how do you spell the dang thing, anyway? Is it Love's Labors Lost? Love's Labour's Lost? Are there two apostrophes? One? None?
You might not be the best speller, but this time the confusion is not your fault: we don't know exactly what Shakespeare intended. Different editions have printed it different ways ever since he penned the play. Argh!
But we can make a little more headway on the meaning of the title: it could suggest either that the labor of love is lost, or the lost labors of love. Either way, the title gives us a couple of hints of what we're about to see—a very convoluted love story. For the smitten characters, love means work, mostly of the literary kind: hours spent working out flattering images and melodious rhymes. And as for that "lost"—well, the play doesn't end with wedding bells... and the labor these poor dudes put in trying to seal themselves off from love doesn't exactly pan out.
I’m writing this blog post purely out of love.
This statement may sound forced, or worse, a lie. You may think that I am writing this blog post for my own website, so this post generates website traffic and earns me money. Blog posts also help me build my personal brand, giving me an edge on my resume.
The truth is, if I were to look at writing for The Change Blog as a moneymaking or career-building opportunity, it would be a waste of my time. I do not own the site (the affable Peter Clemens does). I am merely a columnist who started writing for this site five years ago on something of a whim. I do get paid a modest fee for writing articles, but I command a higher hourly wage doing other things in my life. While I meet many wonderful people through the site, very few of them intersect with my current career in video game development.
I write these columns simply because I love writing.
I have always enjoyed writing. Even in elementary school, I would spend extraordinary amounts of time crafting essays and short stories. As I grew older, writing became a type of therapy to deal with the ups and downs of puberty. I convinced my friends to create a fantasy world in which we were characters, and they even co-wrote some stories with me in high school.
As an adult, I’ve continued to make writing a priority in my life, even when it isn’t always convenient. If my current job doesn’t involve a lot of writing, I will find other outlets to do so. I will write even if that means giving up sleep, which is why I wrote the first draft of this article at 5 am instead of going back to bed like a sane person.
The older I get, the less time I have to do things simply for the pleasure of doing them. The free time I had as a young adult has been lost to raising children, finding time to exercise, or running errands. I don’t have time to do everything I used to love to do, and the tools of many of my hobbies gather dust in my closet.
But I cannot give up writing. It is my one labor of love.
There are some things in life that have no tangible justification. These may feel like a frivolous hobby, something that detracts from time you could get more stuff done, like fill out tax forms. But you know, deep down, that engaging in this activity makes you feel complete. It gives you a sense of satisfaction that absolutely nothing else can. When you give it up temporarily, you may feel okay for a little while, but it doesn’t take long before you’re thinking about it night and day.
Without it, you are not happy. You just don’t feel like you.
I hope you can always make time for your labors of love. I know what it feels like to have that nagging, little voice in your head telling you that you’ve got better things to do. But sometimes, we do things not because it’s practical, but because we love doing it. Sometimes, that’s all the justification you need.
Photo by Knar Bedian