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Working is NOT WORKING

I am approaching an age where many of the conversations surrounding me are about growing older, about retirement and about dying.   Most seem to be centred around working; how busy people are and how much more work is yet to be done, how they still have years to work, how much they look forward to not working, how wonderful it already is to no longer work, how they can cannot see a day in the future that doesn’t include work.

What is this obsession we have with working for decades and then finally not working?  We are consumed by the idea that we have to work every hour that’s available to us, for as many years as possible so that we feel comfortable enough to diminish or end that work.  All this so we can finally live the life we want, and make time for the things that matter; travel, reading, gardening, sailing, volunteering, learning a language, writing a novel, and spending time with people we love….at last.

I don’t believe that this is what we were put on the planet for, this is a result of an industrial revolution, that while revolutionized much, also took away a great deal more.  We have been brainwashed to believe that work is what brings us purpose, gives us our sense of worth, is the measure of our success, and provides the best life.  And, that we must do it for years before we are rewarded, if we are lucky, with enough time and money to spend the last and least amount of our time, enjoying the life we built on a lifetime of work.  All this assuming we live to a ripe old age.

I know we need money, but we need much less than we think.  We need the basics: shelter, food, warmth, medicine, fresh water, clothing, education.  We want so much more, and we are chained to working in order to provide it. What’s interesting is that I don’t see the satisfaction level or the happiness quotient increasing with the amount of work being done or the amount of money being had.  What I see more often, are weary, harried, stressed, anxious, depressed, lonely, unfulfilled people, living lives of quiet desperation – trying to find more time, right now, to feel and do better.

We cannot all be entrepreneurs, or work for amazing people, or choose the hours we are on the job, or decide to take time because the sun is shining.  What we can decide is what matters most.  We all have the same 24 hours each day, and we are not going to find more time.  What we can find, is the will to carve out what is meaningful to us, what we cherish most, what will fulfill our waking moments, until we no longer have them. You may not live long, you may not live healthy, you may not live with fame or fortune.  But while you are living, you owe it to yourself to carve out a small piece of heaven on earth, whatever that is for you.  You can decide to do with less, to listen to your own voice, and not the ones that scream on the screens. You can decide to walk at a pace that is comfortable for you, while the world spins around you.  You can get your work done, whatever your work is, with a sense of purpose and gratitude, while providing what you need for you and those who depend on you.

Beyond that, you need to be able to embrace the gift of this moment, and the next, and the next, in whatever way that speaks to you.  Stop thinking about how to fit in the things that matter around the hours you work and start thinking about how to fit in your work, around the things that matter.  It is possible, to find time, we do it whenever we need to: when someone has an accident, when our friend is grieving, when our mother needs care, when we lose our job, when we need to plan a funeral, when our operation is scheduled, when an earthquake hits, when we are told that we are dying.

Let’s change our approach and teach our children; that money is required not revered, that work is something that serves us not something that we serve, and let’s change the lens to view a beautiful life through one of love rather than labour.


blog post, zero degrees

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