Sometimes I forget the value of work. We all have to do it and on many days, it seems like drudgery. On some days, you have to focus on payday to get you through the day. On some days, you wonder if you are accomplishing anything. On some days you think: well at least I did no harm.
However, on good days, work is its own reward. You put your head down and you plow through a task to its completion and at the end of the day, you look up and wonder where the time went. You look down at your desk and realize – hey, I just got something worthwhile done.
It doesn’t matter what your work is, you have good days and bad days. If you love your work, the good days outnumber the bad but even the worst job offers moments of actual joy. It may merely be the smile of a satisfied customer; it may be the pleasure of a really clean kitchen. It may be writing the end on a short story (even though you know there are re-writes ahead).
Work can also let you ignore the world and some days, ignoring the world is the best thing that happens all week. Sometimes I bury myself in mundane tasks just to take my mind off the fact that China just had to declare a red alert due to pollution in Beijing where some poisons have reached 10 or even 40 times the ‘safe’ levels. Who needs to think on that? Well, we all do just as we all need to think about the wider environment that we will leave to our kids and grandkids.
Still, it is a relief right? – to pretend for a day that filling out these forms or fixing that gasline or getting the bug out of that game code is what’s really important. At least we can say we accomplished something, can say that we aren’t powerless to make a real change. Though we’re not, of course, not collectively. Collectively we are quite capable of saving the world. Maybe tomorrow, right?
Work also lets you tune out the crazies and the haters. While you’re focused on finishing that painting or getting the cows milked, you can pretend you didn’t hear Donald Trump step over the line (again) into the realm of 1940s fascism. It’s better not to listen – let his hateful supporters do all the listening. If you work hard enough, you can shut out their hateful growls and grunts of approval. You can pretend Trump is a rational human being and not a bombastic egomaniac whose only purpose in life is not to get things done but rather to be at the centre of attention.
Yeah, that’s right. Work will set you free. Isn’t that what they used to say in Auschwitz and Dachau? Arbeit Macht Frei. Go for it. Just hope you look up from the job sometime soon. Before it’s too late.
And that’s ten minutes.