I am thinking here of work in the broadest possible way- as focused effort expended in a particular direction. Could be paid or unpaid, inner or outer, something we love doing or something we do only because it has to be done or for some other end (like putting food on the table.) Could be creatively open-ended or. . . . not so much. There are only so many ways to wash the dishes, but even there we have choices about the quality of the attention we bring to the task, whether or not we really feel the warm, soapy water (and offer a small prayer of gratitued for hot running water,) whether or not we see the task as drudgery or an act of caring for ourselves or others.
One of the most challenging things about aging is the diminishment of our ability to work as we once could. Still, if we don’t get caught in identifying with the quantity of accomplished work, but allow ourselves to enjoy the feeling of working at whatever level makes us stretch just a little (without hurtling ourselves over the cliff of “but I used to be able to . . .” ) the pleasure in work can still be ours.