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Olson: Work not just about money

Published: Friday, Aug. 29, 2014 11:26 p.m. CDT

Labor Day is a great holiday. There’s no societal pressure to be solemn and reflective, no one scolding us that commercialism is overtaking its “true meaning.”

It’s a day made for a barbecue. A day to say, “Hey, you work hard. Why don’t you take Monday off?”

Don’t mind if I do, and I hope you do the same.

But Labor Day’s not just another day off. It’s a good time to be grateful for the jobs we have, or think of those that we want one day.

Just remember this Labor Day weekend that it doesn’t matter if you don’t make a lot of money in life.

You can’t spend your time worrying about how much other people make and the things that they have. Your salary is not the true measure of your value as a person.

Those were messages my parents drummed into my head as a child. They had plenty of opportunities – I went to school with a lot of kids whose parents had big houses and drove fancy cars, and bought their children “cool” expensive clothes – IOU sweatshirts and Z. Cavaricci pants, things like that.

My family wasn’t poor, but we certainly weren’t rich. There were times when I wondered if my parents really believed all that anti-materialism stuff, or if they were just trying to make themselves feel better because we weren’t the wealthiest family on the block.

But at some point I realized what they were telling me really wasn’t about them. It was about me – what I could become, and what I should not become.

Figuring that out was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Had making a lot of money been my key goal, I certainly never would have decided to study journalism. It’s not a field known for minting a lot of millionaires.

It’s always been a field that people have warned is on the verge of collapse. The popular narrative is that the Internet “killed” newspapers and journalism, but that’s not true.

For one, this column is appearing in a newspaper as well as on the Internet, and later I’ll go onto social media and tell all my friends and followers about it.

For another, people have been talking about the demise of newspapers since I took up studying them in college, when the Internet was a thing most people accessed over the telephone line with a series of pings followed by that hiss of static.

Reporting the news was something I have always wanted to do. The belief that there are more important things in life, and in a career, than becoming rich, gave me the courage and the freedom to pursue my passion.

As a result, today I live in a great community and have the privilege to be the editor of its local newspaper. I am truly grateful.

What matters: What better feeling is there than coming home after a hard day of work and being able to say, “I accomplished something today.”

That’s the great thing about having a job that you like – or can at least tolerate – and do well. You build something, you create something, you process information that helps things get done – the truly fulfilling jobs make us part of something bigger than ourselves.

People talk about retirement like it’s the goal, but sometimes I’m not really sure. The people I know who have been lucky enough to actually make it to retirement say they have no problem keeping busy, but many of them are out working at other things.

Whether it’s hanging drywall or making a newspaper, if it’s something you enjoy and at the end of the day, you can be proud of it, then it really shouldn’t matter if you don’t live in the biggest house on the block or buy a new car every year.

Although if you do accumulate wealth through your work, that’s a sweet deal, too.

New-look Chronicle: Those of you reading the print edition of the Daily Chronicle today might have noticed that it looks different. (Unless, as so many people do, you open directly to page 2 on weekends).

The most notable change might be that we’ve abandoned the old English font on the newspaper’s masthead in favor of a font that is simpler and easier to read. We’re also adding some touches atop sections and above page A3, where our local news report always continues inside the newspaper. We haven’t changed our fonts but have changed the way we will use some of them.

Anytime a familiar publication changes in appearance, it can take some time for readers to adjust. If you do have any questions or comments about our new look, I’m always happy to hear from you.

• Eric Olson is editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841 ext. 2257, email eolson@shawmedia.com, or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.

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