Is Your Work Really "Just a Job"?
“In Blue Highways, his fascinating story of his pilgrimage across America, William Least Heat Moon tells of meeting a man who takes him to task for the way he uses the words job and work interchangeably. ‘Oughten do that,’ the man says. ‘A job is what you force yourself to pay attention to for money. With work you don’t have to force yourself. There are a lot of jobs in this country, and that’s good because they keep people occupied. That’s why they call them occupations.’
We spend our days doing what we do for all kinds of reasons. It is the work that we have been given to do or what we have found to do. Some of us do work that seems to have found us in some way, for better or for worse. A fair number of us do things that we love to do, whatever that might mean to us, but if you ask many people if that is so for them, not as many of them will say yes as you might have thought or hoped.
How do we come to choose what it is that we spend our days doing?
Would we choose it again if we could?
Did we choose it today, or has it simply carried us along somehow?
I once worked for a very long time in a place where I did not really feel very good at all about the things that we made and sold. In another place I worked among people who lived their lives and saw the world in such different ways that I did that I could hardly bear to be around them. But I kept going back, day after day, not really sure why, knowing only that the financial realities that seemed to govern my life at the time demanded that I hold on somehow. I could not run the risk of not finding anything better, so I sold my life hour by hour to someone who had no idea of the purchase they were making. But then I had no idea of what I was selling either.'“
- from Between the Dreaming and the Coming True by Robert Benson
We adults spend the majority of our time sleeping and working. In an ideal situation we spend about an equal portion of each day doing one of the two. The first because our bodies and minds were made in such a way that they need about eight hours of each day to restore and refresh; and the second because the rules of this world dictate that we do something to provide the food, clothing, shelter and the other things that make up our lives.
Since our work takes up about a third of our days, the rest being disposed in sleep and life management, shouldn’t it also say something about the meaning of our lives? Is your vocation a job, an occupation, or your work?