So, I was thinking about work.
Wait a minute. Let’s go back a step.
First I was thinking about rest. Here’s what I thought:
If I don’t have at least one of the days, when I’m not working, to start my day off slow and easy, at whatever pace I feel like moving, then I don’t feel like I have had any real time off.
And that got me thinking about what I haven’t gotten done lately, and why.
My goal was to have the rough draft of a novel finished during this summer break from classes. I was 70,000 words in before the end of the semester. The semester ended in the first week of May. It is now one day away from July and I haven’t written a word. I’ve made notes, but no narrative has been put on paper yet.
And I wondered: Why is that?
Truth is, I’m fucking tired.
I’ve been tired for a long damn time.
Work and school will do that to you.
Now, writing energizes me the same way working out does.
So, why don’t I do it after a long day at work?
The answer: I work long days.
Sometimes those days are emotionally exhausting and I just don’t have anything left in my tank. All I can do is make dinner and mindlessly watch TV or surf the web.
This is a problem. and I don’t think it’s one I’m alone in struggling with.
My guess is, if you’re reading this, and not retired, you probably experience much the same thing. Work hard. Crash. Recover on the weekends (if you get the chance). Repeat.
That sounds like a fucked up cycle. It sounds fucked up because it is.
I don’t think human beings are wired, built, or capable of keeping up that kind of schedule and still having a meaningful and enjoyable life.
and I’m not alone in that belief. Other developed countries in the world agree and have shortened work weeks and increased vacation time.
But we couldn’t do that in America. Hell no. It sounds too much like laziness. And, maybe, communism.
But I don’t see how there is anything wrong with laziness, in its proper proportion.
Let’s face it, too much industriousness isn’t good for us. We need downtime.
We need downtime to process, have relationships, and generally just experience living.
Too often we work to survive.
But isn’t life supposed to be more than that?
Our ancestors foraged, hunted, and cultivated to survive, but they still managed to have time to produce art, and music, and stories.
And many of us just don’t have the energy or the time to do that anymore.
That leaves a big void inside us. A constant feeling of dissatisfaction and of dreams unfulfilled.
So, what do we do? We fill that void with meaningless consumerism and the pointless, endless pursuit of escapism. TV. Shopping. Arguing over stupid shit on the internet just so we can feel like we are important, and right, and valued for 30 out of our 86,400 seconds in a day.
And where does it get us? Temporary moments of euphoria, and then the inevitable crash. Escapism is our drug and we appear to be hopeless addicts.
It is like a great many of us work just to survive. And if, like me, you’re not having children what is the point to mere survival? I’m not dragging my carcass along this life to pass on my genetics to the next generation that will probably do the same thing just to serve the biological imperative of the species.
I want something more than that.
I’d wager many of you do too.
So, what is the point?
(No, not to life. Everyone must figure that out for him/ herself. Sorry, not a guru and I don’t give those kinds of short cuts.)
The point is that we have engineered a culture, in America, that pays no heed to the necessities, physical, mental, and emotional, of being an actual living, thriving human being.
Clocks and schedules. Time keeping and bean counting. Racing to get ahead, or just struggling to keep our heads above water.
And we do it, day in and day out, and we’re not satisfied. We don’t feel whole or fulfilled. We can’t see the myriad possible joys in life, or where the real struggles are.
And we fill those holes with food, sex, drugs, and entertainment, and where has it gotten us?
Fat, broke, and unhappy – as a nation.
Sometimes it’s hard to see when a choice we have made – a choice that appears to work – is not good for us, or isn’t as good as another alternative.
It’s just the way we’re wired. There have been studies done. Go look them up.
So, how do we, as a culture, wake up and see this trap of endless work and pointless consumerism for what it really is? How do we learn to make a different choice?
…And one you should think about; if you have any time or energy left.
Maybe on the weekend sometime, before you trundle off to do something that makes you feel alive again, if only for a moment.
Before you go see that movie, before you head to the bar or restaurant, before you clock time at the gym, or slouch through the mall one more time. Take a moment to ask yourself:
Why do I do this?
– And –
Does this feel like what life should really be like?
Are you satisfied with the way things are? With the way your life is?
and if not, why?
What are you going to do about it?