The Joy of Common Work

Visitors Center at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia
Visitors Center at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, Virginia

. . . Do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
– Robert Lewis Stevenson

It’s easy for me to get caught up in wanting everything fancy, just like I think everyone else has it.

But of course, very few have everything fancy. For most of us, we have to cook and wash dishes, do laundry, clean, and take care of our children and / or pets.

There’s a joy in it – in the routine of scrubbing pots, folding clothes or sweeping floors. There’s a joy in the pleasure of a dog when you’ve bent over next to them to put on your shoes and they can look up at you and wag their tail.

Joy is everywhere, but we have to remind ourselves to seek it and be aware of it in the little things in our lives. To not let daily living overwhelm the sweet little things of our everyday actions.

For your amusement, below is the original and some experiments. I like the one that includes the “worn brick” texture and really found it hard to choose between it and the one I finally used. Both look good, but for different reasons.

Encouragement Home Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens Photography Topaz Labs Virginia

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I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at

18 Comments Leave a comment

    • Thanks Phil! I’m glad you noticed the details (you’re the only one that commented on them too). Your notes on enjoying the work in progress is part of why I keep posting that. It does make it much more fun for everyone.

  1. It’s when those common things are gone what we realize the joy there was in it. Seeing/feeling/acknowledging joy while it is still there, and wonderful! hugs Lovely pics Nancy.

  2. I enjoy doing the common work. I find myself creating stories in my head while doing mundane chores. Agatha Christie said she got her best ideas while washing the dishes. :)

  3. I really enjoy seeing the different effects on the photo. Amazing what a different ‘filter’ can do for anyone’s perspective. ;)

    And as for common work….there is comfort, and grounding, in it.

    • I’m glad you liked seeing the variations. I get a fair amount of comments on it, which is why I’m trying to include more of it (so comments like this encourage me to keep it up).

      You’re right about the common work – there IS comfort in the routine and it is grounding – it takes us back to our basics and let’s our brains relax for a while.

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