Musings During a Mid-day Writing Break

As the human race entered the Industrial Revolution and modernity one of the interesting side effects has been how we have become distanced from our work.

In the beginning, people either farmed or hand-crafted things they could use.  There is something comforting about eating something you have grown or sitting in a chair you have made.  As people moved from farms to the city and the making of things became more and more industrialized with the assembly line, workers (and people in general) became more and more distanced from what they were actually doing.

We live in a first world today where it is a very rare and special thing to be able to call the work you do for money the thing that defines you.

If I have learned anything in this last month it is how stultifying (look it up!) my job can be.  This has been an idea that has crept into the foreground of my mind over the last few months.  On one hand I will be eternally grateful for this job.  It came at a time when I really needed a job.  It has helped me get back on my feet.  On the other hand, in a perverse way it also has helped me see how much I really gain nothing from it but money.

That dichotomy is something I struggle with every day as I try to honor the job by doing it to the best of my ability and not disrespect it by treating it as an inconvenience.  Yet, I get so little true satisfaction from it that I often feel angry towards it at the end of the day.

I think Thoreau is more right today then he was in his own time.  Most people do lead lives of quiet desperation.  Most don’t think of it that way, however.  Most people are just happy to have a job, a roof over their heads, and a table full of food.  They do not have the time or the inclination to navel gaze and ponder their existential lot in life.   They don’t care that their job isn’t emotionally or psychically rewarding.  They are too busy going to work and living their lives.  They have found a way to live with it and move on.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), I do have the time and inclination to navel gaze about such things, especially when I’m taking a break from the writing I should be doing.

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