Essays

The purpose of work

I miss busy days.

Work is a respite from the brutalities of the uncertainty of life. For many of us, work has a specific rhythm. You know that you will get up, get dressed, go to an office, have coffee, encounter the same few folks, say the same few jokes, go to meetings, have lunch, go to more meetings, file some reports, say the same few jokes, say good bye to the same few people, perhaps have a few drinks with a couple of the same few people later on, take your train or car home, and then the hard work begins when you encounter–

  • Your spouse, partner, or paramour
  • Your pet
  • Your children
  • Your parents
  • Your siblings
  • Yourself

Really, it is hard to rank which is scariest of all on that list. Is it the spouse? Do they have a beef with you for the day? Or has your pet done a bad thing on the carpet? Or was it your child? Did you parents drop by unannounced and take over your space? Is your not-so-favorite sibling doing a drive-by and complain session?

Or, truly, are you just going home, by yourself, to a Seamless order, a bottle of wine, and a mindless bit of television?

No, work is a respite from the vulgar mundanities of day-to-day living. For many of us, we know that it will be there. It will not necessarily offer a lot of surprise, and that is a good thing. Work won’t actually kill you – the stress will, but the stress comes from all angles, most of those angles not in your place of earning your daily bread.

I miss busy days; I have active days, productive ones, but few that are so soul-crushingly busy that I lack the mental space to consider what happens after my work day is done. I do not like takeout; I have always been loathe to drink a bottle of wine myself; I prefer the quiet, but the quiet turns into silence, and silence is deadly.

I would rather be working. I would rather avoid the insult of anything else.

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