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schlach's Journal: Do something you love 1

Journal by schlach

[Editor's Note: this was a comment in reply to Thursday's What Should I Do With My Life? article. It spawned a pretty decent discussion.]

What it all comes down to is doing something you love.

Absolutely. It is extremely important to Be doing what you love, not "love what you're doing". Big difference. I imagine my situation is similar to a lot of hackers out there. I work about 10 hours a day, including travel, to pay the bills, and then I come home and do my Work. Do you know the difference between work and Work? There's a quote, would appreciate someone citing it for me, that goes along the lines of, "Once a person has found his true Work, he is never bored."

So it seems to me that my concept of Work-capital-W is the "What should I do with my life?" answer.

How incredibly taxing is it to only do one's Work after losing a 10-hour chunk of one's day? The majority of one's waking hours, gone. First of all, you start resenting your job, because it takes you away from your Work, and that's never a healthy place to be in. Second, you have to make a choice between a healthy social life and your Work. No matter which way I choose, I won't be happy.

So there you have it. My job "to pay the bills" is either costing me my life's Work or my relationships with the people I love (and the people I have not yet loved ; ) Anyway you slice it, they can't pay me enough.

Ben Hunnicut is author of Work Without End and is a history prof at UofI. Had the opportunity to chat with him a bit. He has devoted a serious part of his life to wondering about the worth of leisure time in American society. Work Without End is a look at the "shorter-hours" movement in this country from the late nineteenth century up to 1940 or so. We kind of take the 8-hour/5-day work week for granted these days, but it wasn't always so. The shorter-hours movement, both from within labor and without, got the work day from 12-hour to 10-hour, and finally 8-hour, and then got the week shortened to 5-day. The Kellogs factory workers even went down to 6-hour.

And then after WWII, the movement just kinda stopped. No one is questioning the 40-hour work-week, no one is calling for more leisure. Why?

What is leisure time good for? Improving oneself, contemplating the larger questions of Life, Love, and Happiness (insert God if you wish), studying the democratic process in order to be a better citizen, kernel hacking... when you get right down to it, I don't want to do anything that someone has to pay me to get me to do.

Ben points to a lot of utopians, socialists, Progressives, and authors that always figured that increasing industrialization would eventually mean that machines did most of the labor, and humans would be left with pure Leisure. Of course we are in a very good position to rule on what utter bullshit that turned out to be. As long as corporations own the machines, the People do not, hence the profit on the labor of the machines goes to the owners. Instead we find ourselves forced now to keep up with the pace of the Machine.

Don't get me wrong, wouldn't trade it for The Way We Was, but I would fix it. We should always be using Technology to study and answer the really big questions that are fundamentally human. Like communication, love, politics, work, play, war, and so forth. Questions that people have always had to answer, but haven't always had the tech that we do with which to answer them.

For what it's worth, I consider that to be my life's Work. Applying modern technology to answering the fundamental human questions. My dream is to be able to make the quality of life on this planet tied to the progress of technology, so that increasing technological progress brings a corresponding increase in the quality of life. I think this is slightly different than the way it has been for awhile, in that increasing technological progress has brought better ways with which to kill each other, while our political and cultural systems are largely stagnant and always looking backward to the glory days behind us...

Ok I'm monopolizing the discussion, someone take over. ; )

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Do something you love

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  • Hello, (please watch the capitalization of work and Work)
    You've written very eloquently about how many of us do our work and Work,
    "How incredibly taxing is it to only do one's Work after losing a 10-hour chunk of one's day? [. . . ] The majority of one's waking hours, gone. So there you have it. My job 'to pay the bills' is either costing me my life's Work or my relationships with the people I love (and the people I have not yet loved ; ) Anyway you slice it, they can't pay me enough."

    I'd like to find out how you're handling the problems you mentioned, and how you think other people are. Here's my take.

    Most people seem to answer the previous dilemma by stopping conventional work and instead Working at what they "love." By love I mean the most enjoyable thing they've discovered in their life so far. The pay isn't great but heck it's fun! They're young and they don't need much. That doesn't seem to last very long.

    What happens when they get old, get married, have children, they change or the thing they love changes? If they're not generating serious money can they ever retire? I don't think they can retire, and if they or a loved becomes ill or can't work, they're screwed.

    I'm not saying don't do what you love, I am saying make sure doing what you love can support you in the long-run. If we look hard enough we can find something we love that is financially sound. Most people don't bother looking long or hard enough for a solution that they love AND that is financially sound. The consequences aren't pretty.

    Respectfully,
    J.D.

"Success covers a multitude of blunders." -- George Bernard Shaw

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