Monday, June 28, 2010

The Work of Work

"There's a reason they call it work."

I've been blessed to work with people I mostly like, doing work that I mostly think is important and good. And to make a good living while doing it. Not everyone is so lucky. I know a lot of lawyers and consultants, for example, who work constantly. They work in a business model that pays for volume, and they deliver that volume, knowing that if they do not there is someone else who will.

So they contine to crank out the hours to pay the mortgages that they should not have taken out, on houses that are now worth less than they paid for them. I think this just is a more dramatic version of what many others are feeling. That they have to crank out the hours and produce or they will be casualties, too, like their neighbor was last week or last month.

This has been a tough time for those who were once at or near the top of the food chain. I think many of us (and I include myself) are questioning whether it is as important as we once thought it was to live in a big house in a great location, drive a late model luxary sedan, and send our kids to prestigious schools.

I know there are plenty of times that I long for a simpler life. I just don't know how to get there.

The truth is that my training is for fairly high stress jobs in health care. Thankfully I am good at it and enjoy it. But I do wonder from time to time if my "calling" is as important as I once thought it was. And I worry that the adrenaline high might not be as satisfying as more subtle pursuits.

I wonder if my thoughts of getting ahead, of leading others, of being "outstanding," whatever that means, are as important as the simple satisfaction of meaningful human interaction.

I don't know the answer to any of these questions. When I asked my teacher, Peter Fenner, about what was next for me, he said in his Zen-like way, something utterly simple and profound.

"It's not obvious right now. At some point, it will be. And you'll do that."

I see an intent to simplify, and I don't quite know what that looks like yet. In the meantime, my task seems to be finding more meaning, and satisfaction, in the simple moments of each day. Wherever I happen to find them.


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