Work and Self – Gary Young MySpace Blog

Work and Self
Category: Jobs, Work, Careers

I went on to Napster, which is now a legitimate non-pirating music service.  The subscription comes free with AOL now.  Just now I decided to browse the “jazz” genre to look for some tunes and what’s the first thing I see?  This:


I’ve been thinking about a conversation I had with a friend a few days ago.  How do you find something fulfilling and make enough money to support yourself?  How do you make a living without selling out?

I said something like, work is just work.  It’s not life.  And it’s not your life unless you let it be.  Work is what you do for eight hours a day in order to survive and/or excel.  Hopefully, your work/career is something you like or love to do.

On a world-as-a-game-of-Risk level, our economy is a kind of pyramid scheme.  You make a salary while making someone else rich.  For example, if you work for a corporation and you come up with an idea that wins a patent, you may get a bonus of a few thousand dollars, whereas that patentable advance may earn the company millions of dollars.  Heck, the CEO may get a few million dollars worth of bonuses or perks.

I figure that’s just the way it is.  That doesn’t reflect on my moral fiber.  In other words, I don’t fret over selling out.  If you want to look at it a certain way, I’m sold.  Or, I’m a part of the system.  I was born into the system.  I barter my services in exchange for guns and butter.

Now, I have had jobs where on a moral level I wasn’t 100% comfortable.   You know, there’s a point in your life when you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with it and what it means to have purpose when you want to live out an ideal.  (Hopefully all of it.)  I had a job where a CEO was hired who was a former exec at an alcohol corp. and one of his great successes was introducing brands of malt liquor to “minority communities”.  I’ve worked for companies that enabled the drivel and amoral manipulations of marketers and companies that enabled cigarette manufacturers to influence congressional legislation.  Of course, like anything else it’s just a product, right?  Anything can be used constructively, destructively or chaotically neutrally so there’s no sense in hitching one’s own ego or sense of self on to one’s employer’s possible motives or client-base unless, of course, they’re evil.

There are limits of course.  I would not knowingly work for EvilCo, LLC.  Nor would I work for a company that makes nicotine-coated crossbows for children.

I like my current job. We make mapping solutions.  I have a fascination with maps and cartography, as I’ve said before.  I don’t know why, but I do.  Now I’m surrounded by maps and issues of navigation all work day long.  It challenges and pleases me.

Anyway, I’m way off topic here.  So I sez to my friend, I sez, work is just work.  I don’t expect life-affirming fulfillment from work.  (I would love to be able to make a living making music and writing.)  It’s something you do for forty hours a week to make a living.  It’s only time.  Your time in exchange for money.

And she says, but what else do you have besides time?

Uh … oh.  Well, hmmm.  Stumped.  Okay, let’s see.

We work, on average, 40 hours/week.  There are 168 hours/week.  We sleep about 8 hours/day, which means that we are awake 16 hours/day.  One third of our lives is spent sleeping.  Wow.  That seems like kind of a gip.  Let me write this out more clearly.  There are 168 hours in a week.

Work: 40 hrs/wk
Sleep: 56 hrs/wk
Awake and not working: 72 hrs/wk

33% of our lives is spent sleeping.
23.8% of our adult lives between the ages of 22 and 65 is spent working.
43.2% of our adult lives between the ages of 22 and 65 are spent awake and not working.  These are your life hours.   Your free time.

Or to look at it another way, for every week — every 7 days — you have 3 days worth of non-contiguous free time.

(Some of that free time is spent doing mundane things like paying bills, commuting, vacuuming, etc.  BUT, if you’re sleeping next to someone you want to be sleeping next to, that counts in part towards living points. So does any other activity that involves quality interpersonal time.  My own rules, there.)

Life-affirming fulfillment at work is the ideal.  Find it if you can.  It seems like a long shot but people do it.  They open their own businesses.  They take a chance and invest in themselves.  Your 43.2% is yours, though.  Use it wisely.  Responsibly indulge, I say.  You know.  Learn something, create something, have fun but CYA.

However, I think that it’s not the amount of time you have.  There’s more to us than time.  Some of the greatest minds, the most prolific and influential human beings that have ever existed lived short lives.  I’ve already outlived some of them.  Jesus was 33.  Clifford Brown was 26.  Lee Morgan, 34.  Marilyn Monroe, 36.  Billie Holiday, 44.  Abraham Lincoln, 56.  River Phoenix, 23. Shakespeare was 52.  I was surprised to see that Galileo and Isaac Newton were oldsters but they changed the world in the time they spent here.

We have much more than time. We have how we use that time.

Then again, every single person I named above eventually made their mark through their professional pursuits.  Then again-again, Einstein was a clerk in a patent office from 1901 to 1908.  Seven years.  Of course, he was publshing Physics papers during that time.  He never gave up on his passion.  He used his time while he was payin’ his dues.

And, ironically, after all this pontificating I’ve come full circle to the way that conversation ended.

I am overweight.  Somehow, between the months of October and, say, March I gained at least 20 lbs.  My body atrophied and succumbed to entropy with astonishing quickness.  Needless to say, I’ve been trying to get into some kind of routine — not so much a diet as new habits.

I’m 35 years old.  It’s the tipping point and I’ve crested that hill as far as metabolism goes.  It’s a fight from here.  A fight for survival and against my genetic destiny.  I don’t want to just survive to a ripe old age.  I want to be  hearty, hale and robust.

It’s not going terribly well.  Maybe it is.  I dunno.  I can’t quite tell yet.  But I can tell you this.  A South Beach Chocolate Crisp bar + a few spoonfuls of all natural peanut butter makes for a filling and delicious lunch.  It’s darn good.

Now.  If only I could get my lazy ass up early in the morning to go work out before I need a forklift and industrial strength lubricant to remove me from this computer desk chair and apartment.

Currently listening :
My Baddest B*tches
By The Grouch
Release date: By 02 August, 2005

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