Work.Interest. Attention and Love.

Posted on October 12, 2011

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WORK RULES...........................YEAH

tl;dr:work can suck -it doesn’t have to.

I love to read and write.

I love to eat good food.

Doubly important I love to cook.

I love to run.

I love to practice asana.

You know what I don’t really love? Working. Let me rephrase that. I don’t enjoy working in a way that does not foster creativity or spark interest. I am not intrinsically driven to engage in life in a way that doesn’t naturally bring joy or strike passion in me. Ask my partner, he’ll talk for hours about my sometimes embarrassing need to do spontaneous and joyful things…just becuase. My logical self reminds me daily that almost no one is satisfied with what they do for work…that’s why it’s called work.

But why?

Why is it that what many of us choose to do (and it is a choice) with the meatiest hours of the day fails to capture the meatiest and soul filled parts of the self? Don’t get me wrong, I have a pretty cool job, I get to interact with the up and coming intelligentsia in my pocket of the world and …help them. Being a supporter personality, it has been fulfilling to work in a career field where, save for the obligatory and ever hated data mining and contract writing…I simply get to provide support to others. Now. Notice that “provide support to others” isn’t one of my top five loves, in fact help others isn’t a thing that most people would consider to list when asked what they love.  People list family members, precious things or experiences. They do what I did above and list superficial or broad spectrum processes instead of something finite and calculable.

File this away for a moment. I’ll return to it later. For now, think about the things you love. Think about them and then riddle me this question:

Would you like to spend 40 hours a week doing that thing?  If you listed a child or spouse – how fulfilling would it be to “work” at being a mother or a support figure for your loved one?  If you listed a physical object – how would you like to spend the rest of your working years focusing on that thing?  Save for one item on my list of loves -Asana Practice- I would not like to work at any one of my loves for more than 5 or 10 hours a week. They are my loves for a reason. I allow myself to do them as I want, when I want. No one walks into my house and tells me to read a book for 8 hours. No one tells me to run. I do it because I have passion and interest and it stops there. I do not have a driving need to hone my running skills or to spend months reading/researching or to develop cooking as more than a nommy talent. I don’t love these things enough to make a grand sacrifice in my life to do them for long periods of time without interruption. I would be very sad if I lost any of them…but much like romantic love and relationships – I would learn how to live without them if they were gone.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers (and one of my favorite contributors to TED Talks) tells us,  “…Autonomy, complexity and a connection between effort and reward – are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying. It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It’s whether our work fulfills us.”

So. If I were to rephrase my question and ask: What do you like to do that makes you want to work hard…what would that thing be? Many times the things we love and the things that we find to be most rewarding are very different.  What rewards us at the core level is something that engages us, makes us want to come back day after day and tackle “it” with tenacity and abandon. It’s okay to say that playing video games is really, honestly the thing that you love and are passionate about perusing…I have a friend that LIVES for videogames and his career pursuit has to do with design and story concepts in em.  I have seen the passion for game design burning in him during late night conversations about the stylistic differences between gaming platforms. Work IS passion for those individuals that know what drives them.
It’s also okay to say I don’t know quite yet. It’s the ability to be open and honest about where you are in your work life and what it is that fulfills you that means something.  I love supporting people. I’ve always been someone that gains the most in life when I provide happiness or knowledge to others.  Where I work now lets me support people but… it is not where I want to be in 5 years despite how it engages this part of me. Helping others is only one aspect of what drives me…how I want to help people, via asana practice, also matters to me. How did I know that this is what I want to do for work? When I decided that it is important enough for me to sacrifice sleep and sanity for 4 months to learn how to teach the yogic practice to others. Desire and Drive.

So back to the first question – Why don’t we do what drives us in our working lives? Where is the stop gap between childhood learning and adult experience that makes us…live in the grips of work as an evil rather than a good?  I really want to know, what foolish capitalist ideal continues to fuel this idea – because for me – it soul damning to live in such a way without some kind of forward vision that fosters personal growth and drive to do what we desire to do.

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Posted in: Lessons, Life, Philosophy, Yoga