Until recently, I’ve regarded the term “body of work” as being somewhat odd. It refers to an individual’s total output, or at least a substantial part of it. We often hear “body of work” invoked when assessing an individual’s creative, artistic, or athletic endeavors, as in looking at the career of a great musician, writer, or baseball player.
But I’ve come to realize that we all produce our own body of work, even if we are not famous artists or athletes. It may include work we are paid for, but it also may capture contributions as parents, friends, caregivers, volunteers, and members of the community. For some, their “day job” of showing up to work or caring for children may be complemented by starting a band, coaching a softball team, or singing in a community chorus. Taking into account all of these possibilities, our body of work represents our contributions to this world while we are a part of it.
I confess that turning 50 has been a prod for looking at life in this way. But that’s not a bad thing. In fact, if these notions were planted in us at a much earlier age — as opposed to more conventional ideas about success and achievement — our lives would be more meaningful and, quite possibly, the world would be a better place.