Sunday, April 27, 2008

Meandering Thoughts on Worth and Laziness

As I do my morning walk-about each day, I catch myself feeling guilty for enjoying myself so much. Is it really fair that I should be able to spend an hour most days doing something like this that is so pleasureable to me (but that doesn't earn any money), when most other people have to be at work, "slaving", to pay the bills?

The money seems to make a big difference. I wouldn't feel nearly as guilty if I was doing the same thing, but being paid for it. Then it would be my "job" and therefore sacrosanct in our culture.

It's okay to like what you do, as long as you get paid for it.

If you don't get paid for it, it must not be worth doing?

Most people, of course, seem to feel they have to work, but hate doing so. In our culture, that seems to be what's expected...and therefore that's considered okay too.

Obviously, if you have to work to pay the basic bills - food, clothing, utilities, living space - that's a necessity and you should feel good about what you are doing. Hopefully some day you will be able to find work that you enjoy, as well as having it support you. However, are you automatically noble and "good" for working, even if you are only doing so to get the luxury car instead of the economy model, or the 5th TV, or the 4500 square foot home with granite countertops instead of the 1800 square foot home with Formica?

Why is it considered "good" to work for money to buy unnecessary, wasteful things, but "lazy" (and therefore "bad") to decide that you have enough without working and then try to live simply while appreciating and enjoying what you already have?

Of course, I'm asking the world at large these questions because I'm feeling guilty about enjoying myself even though I'm not earning money....even though I try to keep learning and sharing what I've learned with others.

Traditionally, I've spent many hours each week volunteering. Through my volunteering, I try to make each community I live in a little better off than it would be without my efforts, because I'm lucky enough to have the time and resources to do some of those things that can benefit the community but that don't pay a living wage. And I've started to do a little volunteering here, too.

But I'm also feeling like I need to take time here and now to explore myself and my new environment, to stabilize myself in this new place, maybe to find new directions to take in my life including the possibility of finding paying employment. And I find myself feeling incredibly "lazy" for producing neither a paycheck nor lots of community service hours while I do it. I can't put "exploring new directions" or "stabilizing myself" on a resume, and people look at you strangely if that's what you reply when they ask, "And what do you do?"

So am I saying that it doesn't matter what you do, so long as you are just doing something? Especially if that something is for pay? I've always resisted that sort of thinking, and here I find myself giving in to it. Well, they say consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds!

If I remember correctly, Jung spent 7 years exploring his dreams and trying to figure out what direction he needed to head in, before he finally found his stride and began to truly accomplish his life's work. During those years, when someone asked him what he had accomplished each day, I wonder how he answered? And how he knew, deep down within himself, that he would find his way if he just kept looking?

That's a kind of faith in oneself that I envy and aspire to find in myself. If only I didn't feel so wasteful in taking the time and energy to look for it....

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