Laborum Dulce Lenimen

I’m sitting in a catacomb of dead composers. Ravel, Mozart, Gershwin, Joplin, Beethoven and Bach lay in coffin-like racks around me. Their remains printed and pressed on paper from Germany, America and England.

I work in a print music store, and on a day to day basis I go to work with Bartok, Chopin and Scarlatti… and today- I quit my job.

When I first moved to Australia, on what could only be called a hunch and a whim, I wished I could work in a bookstore – or a music store. To find myself in the exaxct marriage of the two, in a musical bookstore, where I ironically cannot read a single book in here, has been a delight that has often left me convinced at God’s sense of humour.

I have racked my brain to find an adjective that could someway describe to you the people I have met through this seemingly nothing-ish job – and I have found none. I have never loved a group of people who were a year ago, complete strangers, as deeply as I have loved my co-workers-come-friends-come-family here. I have sat in disbelief at times that I, some pip-sqeak good-for-nothin’ Kiwi could love people so much. To the point that I find myself wondering aloud how else I could show these people how much I care for them, without them thinking I am in fact in love with them. And so it goes without saying that my decision to leave has been the hardest work choice of my nine-to-five life.

But my kind sweet store has changed, and though I have tried to inject life and passion in to a place now dull and beige – believe me, I have, I know it’s time to go. Some things can only be made better, be made new when the old has gone and though it is bittersweet to say; in this instance, I am one of the old things that needs to go, for the sake of myself – and for the sakeof this stupid store that I love so much.

The old company I once loved so dear has been swallowed up by a bigger fish, not a big bad fish – but perhaps a big business fish that has forgotten businesses aren’t run simply on schemes and models, they’re run on regular every day blue collar (my uniform is blue) folks like me.

The walls have been painted and the name has changed,  but these dead composers who lie about the room I write to you from now in, have in the most perculiar of ways – as well as the living composers who walk in and out my door daily – have changed me. I feel repainted by my experiences having been here. To be surrounded by the greats, in part at least, is to begin to believe in yourself – and for me, I think that may be the next part of my journey.

I will miss Friday evenings alone or with friends listening to loud, beautiful music soar above the complete life works of those greats that lay before me with music from ages old and ages new seeping into the aspestos ceiling and up above into the sky… somewhere out to join the birds and be free. 
I will miss the horizon that stretches forever from my second story desk window as it fades to orange and velvet blue, just as it does now, through the winter months.
I will miss the holes in the floor, and the ridiculous book titles such as “Fiddling With Kids,” (a violin book for children) and “Amazing Phrazing.”

There is a sheet music publisher, mostly of classical music called Schirmer, whose slogan printed on their books reads “Laborum Dulce Lenimen.” I have sold these books for close to a year, and it has only been recently that I stopped to wonder what the old Latin phrase printed in faded-lime green on lemon yellow paper meant. When translated to English Laborum Dulce Lenimen reads “the sweet solace of our labours,” and I have thought a lot about that phrase in recent weeks and indeed months as I have made the decision to leave.

My final day at this inspirational place will be in two weeks time, and though I will miss these stupid books and their stupid music that I can’t even bloody read… I wont forget the sweet solace of my labour here – and look forward with my whole heart to the sweet solace of new labour, with more of the incredible people in this big beautiful world.

Farewell sweet music store, I never knew a room full of books I couldn’t read by a myriad of composers whose names I can’t pronounce, and a handful of God’s finest creation could have changed my life this much.


2 thoughts on “Laborum Dulce Lenimen

  1. I would like nothing better, now that I am retired, than to work part-time in a music-shop. (“Sir, why not try this tuba?”)

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