No such thing as a Real Job

Always under construction

Confession: I turned my work into a job and the world that mattered the most to me into work.

Lemme ‘splain.

All work and no play

Most of us see our lives as partitioned between “work” and “play.” Work is the dumb things we gotta do, and play amounts to the fun things we wanna do. (I said “is the dumb things” because we see work like it’s this authoritarian killjoy we must pay tribute to.)

This partition is often bestowed upon us as the last rite of passage–“Welcome to adulthood!”–but in reality we start it as children, and approach school as just work, that thing that you gotta do…because, you gotta.

“Memo to myself: Do the dumb things I gotta do…

I’ve been reading Andrew Matthews quite a bit and this is a reflection from his book Follow Your Heart.

It is more useful, healthy, and happy-powering to view everything I do as my life instead of the gotta-work and gotta-play categories. It’s ironic to me that at this stage in my life it is more helpful not to walk through events saying “I can’t believe this is happening,” or “it is so terrible/wonderful that this is happening,” but rather to walk into them saying merely, “this is happening now, and it’s just what I’m working with now.” Similarly, I don’t need to “move on,” but rather need to continue to move.

Here’s where it gets sad…

What I was doing for work became not much more than a job–something we have to do to keep the water running, to turn the wheel, to power the mill, to grind the… While trying to take care of and spend time with my life outside of that job turned into hard work. My job sucked up so many of my resources, and my worrying sucked up even more, so that even play became work. Work isn’t bad, but because we are conditioned to think work=bad, or is at least a necessary evil, I think I became convinced I was truly trapped in my own vicious circle of my own construction. And a job is just a tighter circle within that circle.


Mind turning on itself

Not a dead end, but an end nonetheless


One day, the center of gravity moved, and the circles spun out. So now I am redrawing the circles. But this time presents great opportunities to draw them better [extending the metaphor, bear with me] and change the whole game inside and outside.

No such thing as a “Real Job”

For starters, the “real job” distinction [bringing it back around, yo] has got to go and is useless. In a recent Social Triggers podcast, Derek Halpern interviewed Adam Braun regarding philosophy on work, purpose, giving for its own sake, and the benefits that just come out of that giving (though not in the way that many expect.) It is not a one-to-one correspondence where if you give the universe a good deed you shall get an equal one in return. It has to be truly, freely given. That gift just has a way of setting conditions down the road to where good things also come to the giver. It’s not a promise or a law, so much as just reality.

No such thing as a “Real Life”

Following from this, it shows that my life is just my life. I don’t have a real one and a fake one, or a greater life and a lesser one. It just have the one. And whatever I am doing at any given moment is my real life and who I really am. So while this gives some sobering and uncomfortable propositions to me and anyone else who comes back to this realization, it also gives great power and opportunity. Power to feel that I am centered and present, and that I can enjoy being me and where I am. It gives me hope to lighten up on myself and then everybody else. It makes me better at absorbing joy and pain again.

Don’t worry, Lewis; don’t worry reader. The Real can’t be concealed or destroyed.


The dark side of light

Even the shadows testify that the sun is always shining

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