The Roundup -

Work is a Four Letter Word


I’ve come to the conclusion that work takes up a lot of valuable time better spent in other pursuits. And if I consider not only the time I spend at work, but also the very short time it takes me to walk to the office and back, that extra 30 minutes a day of commute time adds up to over 125 hours a year just in effort spent to get to and from the job, which is more vacation hours than I accrue in a year. The walk itself I enjoy even if it is additional time spent in a work related situation, but still, I think of all the precious daylight hours wasted on the job when I could be pursuing more productive activities, like sitting on the back deck with a glass of wine in my hand reading an excellent book.

Besides, work ages a person. Look at me. I’ve been earning a living for 50 plus years and when I look in the mirror, I see a senior citizen. How did this happen?? The working life must be the culprit, as earning a living constitutes the only thing I have done consistently year in and year out for the past five decades or more. So in my opinion, work must have aged me.

I’ve also noticed a huge difference in the way I view work now as to how I looked at it when I could still leap over tall buildings in a single bound. Work has effectively soured my attitude. Long ago and far away I was a fresh-faced youngster, chomping at the bit to join the work force, earn my own money, and really make my mark on the world. When I entered my teen years, I babysat and mowed lawns until I was sixteen. At the ripe foolishly young age of sixteen, the laws of the land decreed I could work at a ‘real’ job, which in that day and age meant waiting on tables or working at the Doubleday book factory in the next town to earn money until I graduated from high school.

The work ethic, fully ingrained in my young psyche, saw to it that I worked part time while attending university, and once I joined the adult world of work, it seems I’ve been working full time, part time, and a combination of both ever since. Trust me, that’s a long time, a very long time that I have spent in earning a living and paying my own way.

Of course when I was younger, earning a living came naturally and seemed the appropriate way to spend my life, and it never occurred to me that I would someday not work. Naturally I thought I was indispensable. The office would fall apart if I wasn’t there, I thought about work on weekends, and of course overtime presented no difficulties. It just provided me with the opportunity to earn a little more money and at the same time demonstrate to my boss my value and willingness to tackle anything and get the job done right.

As a young adult, I lived to work. Work took top priority, as in my youthful arrogance I thought I had a lot of ground to cover and a lot to prove to anyone who cared to notice. I thought nothing of working a full time job and three part time jobs. Wow, just call me Super Woman.

Eventually of course I grew up. The novelty of work turned into a necessity to work. Further down the road and through the years my attitude has changed, priorities have shifted, and I look at work now through less than rose-colored glasses.

What a difference age and experience makes in a life. Now I work to live. Distressingly, I like to eat and I like to feel warm in winter, so these unfortunate habits require that I continue to work. However, I eat less now than I did as a young adult and I can toss another stick of wood onto the fire in winter; I don’t want as many gadgets as I did as a young adult, so I figured I no longer needed to work a full time job and as many part time jobs as I could stuff into a day. Until of course thanks in part to our health care mess plus the spiraling cost of everything and anything, I realized that I would probably have to continue working at some sort of job until I start to drool and can’t remember my name. Now I look at part time jobs as potential replacements for my full time job, so I now contemplate ways to have a lucrative part time job or two that will enable me to stop this foolishness of earning a living full time each and every day of the week.

I watch people die from stress and work-related causes, I see people grow old working and then have no time or energy to actually live when they decide to retire, and I think about the ironic nature of work. We work so we have a nice house to come home to and enjoy, yet we are never at home because we are always working to have a nice house to come home to. Something doesn’t make sense with that picture, and it took me a lot of years to figure out that life consists of more than earning a living. It took me a long time to shift in priority and realize that home is truly a great place to be. That’s where my books sit in stacks waiting for me to read them, that’s where the garden waits in the summertime, that’s where my bike sits patiently, home provides me the opportunity to indulge in all my little hobbies and chores that give me pleasure, so why on earth do I want to leave home to go to work?

Oh yes, that’s right, back to that annoying problem of having to eat and stay warm in winter. This is beginning to sound like a Catch 22 to me.

I think as we age, we realize that yes indeed we ARE mortal, of course the workplace will survive quite well without us, and that no one is indispensable. Unfortunately we’ve seen the proof of this as colleagues die, retire, or change careers. This realization enables us to at least want to slow down, work smarter not harder, and to understand that we want more out of life than trudging to work every day. Time grows short, I have far too many books yet to read and I want to have time to spend in activities that give me pleasure. These priorities sound much more enticing as ways to pass the time than does the never-ending need to earn a living. Besides, I have earned a living for a LONG time, a depressingly long time, and it is time for a little less work and a lot more fun.

Now I just have to figure out how to manage the feat of less work, more fun, but still pay the bills.


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