In concept and philosophically, I get what the old guy is saying, but I think regardless of what you do, hard work is important and sometimes it will feel like "work" even if you absolutely love what you do.
Certainly there are times that even with an ideal job, you have to push yourself to take care of what needs to be taken care of. It might be a task that you don't like to do, or a difficult situation or person that you have to deal with, but it definitely feels like "work" at that point.
A successful entrepreneur recently told me that there are a lot of days when he'd prefer to sleep in, but his success is based on hard work and dedication. I'm sure at 5:15am, it definitely feels like work to him, especially when compared with sleeping in. Although he loves what he does, there are definitely times that it is "work".
Personally, I would interpret Confucius' statement above to be more along the lines of "if you have a job that you love, you're less likely to get that helpless, boxed in, or desperate feeling".
To modernize his statement a bit, I would say something like -
"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to:
- Sit in your car before work dreading the day until the last possible minute before going in
- Call your mom on your lunch break to complain about how much you hate your job
- Ask yourself why you spend so much time commuting in traffic
- Write "it's not that bad" over and over to convince yourself to stick it out
- Pretend that you're working even though you're g-chatting your friends, playing Scrabulous, and surfing the web all day
- Sit in the bathroom with your head in your hands just to get away from it all
- Stare at your cubicle walls wondering what happened to your hopes and dreams"
- What do you think?