Sabbath, October 25, 2009

Posted October 25, 2009
By Clay Cerny

[Sabbath is a Sunday feature that ponders work & life.]

The Passions of Roger Ebert

Every Friday morning I get the same feeling of admiration and wonder.  The cause?  Roger Ebert.  Almost every review in the Sun-Times movie section is written by Ebert, whose writing has a naturalness and grace about it that sets it apart.  Most movie reviewers want to show how much they know, why they are an expert.  Ebert loves movies.  His reviews – positive or negative – speak to normal people who are trying to decide whether or not to see a film. 

Ebert wrote 8 of the 10 reviews in this week’s movie section.  I don’t know how long it took to write and edit these reviews, but we have to add to that effort the time it took to watch each film.  Most columnists and reporters produce 2-3 features a week.  Often those pieces are based on a brief interview or review of documents.  Ebert is not only one of the most talented writers in American journalism.  He is one of the hardest working.

The best kind of work is fueled by passion, which Ebert exemplifies.  Not only does he produce several movie reviews a week, he also writes one of the most popular blogs on the internet.  In this space, Ebert covers a range of topics from news to personal matters.  He reads comments and often responds to them in detail. 

Most amazingly, all of this is happening while Roger Ebert is fighting cancer.  The man who was one of the most engaging voices on TV (his program with Siskel/Roeper, appearance on the Tonight Show) can no longer speak.  Some would let this misfortune stop their creativity.  Ebert seems fueled to do even more.  He continues to attend film festivals, including the one he sponsors.  He recently gave a large gift to the University of Illinois.  There is no self-pity in this man.

Roger Ebert embodies the value of doing work that drives our passion.  When we are engaged with a task we care about – something we love – work offers us a reward greater than money.  As we see in Ebert’s example, it’s still hard – it’s still work.  But when we find a job that satisfies our passion, we take away an extra bonus from our work: joy.