Thursday, 24 October 2013
My True Enemy
The premises of this post are simple. They are the components of a simple equation, the equation that tells the story of my life.
On one side we have the things I like doing. On the other side I have the things I don't like doing, or worse - the things that threaten me. In the middle, standing between those two sides, are the things that prevent me from doing the things I like doing and draw me towards the dark side.
The things I like doing the most turn out to be simple things. Most of us don't realise it, but I do not need a fleet of Ferraris nor a Lear jet to lead a happy life. Sure, I'd like to travel around the world at will, but it is not the absence of a private jet that prevents me from doing so; and as for the Ferraris, what good are they? They are significantly worse than my trusty old Honda in every practical respect; and as for the vroom-vroom factor, I can lose my driver's license easily enough without a red devil.
Seriously, I'm not short of anything. I am healthy and I lead a healthy life with the people I love the most. The things I really need to keep me alive, from books to movies and video games, are there - in such quantities that I will never be able to pass through all the things I want to pass through even past my seventh reincarnation. And no, I see no evidence to suspect the possibility of even one more incarnation to this.
Looking at the other side of the equation, there is pretty much nothing to pose an immediate threat. If we ignore the matter of job security, I am well off in a country with some of the highest quality of living standards (if not the highest) and in the total absence of immediate existential threats (no matter what fear mongering politicians try to tell us). Life, in other words, is good.
No problemo, then? I have all the things I want and I don't have anything threatening me?
Well, yes problemo. I do have a problem, and that problem is that I do not have the time to do the things I really like doing; the bulk of my time is spent at work instead, leaving me with just the shreds of the day to enjoy life with and the weekends to charge my batteries up with in between running errands I am unable to run during the week. Because of work.
But do I really need to work as much as I do? The short and sad answer is yes. I need to because if I didn't, I would not have the financial means that allow me to live this carefree life I have the potential of living. And no, the way the whole thing is set up, I cannot "choose" to work a tad less; like many professionals before me, it is pretty much a case of take it or leave it - take the whole working day or leave for a career at Centrelink, augmented by some street begging.
On my side, I will argue - in a manner that is likely to disqualify me from future job opportunities once my would be employer Googles up my name - that I, we, do not truly need to work an 8 hour day. I argue, and there is plenty of evidence to support me, that we are only productive for a fraction of this time, and that the rest of our work time is absolute waste - a relic of industrial revolution era slave work agreements. The trend will only get worse through technology and automation replacing humans in more and more areas.
What am I saying here?
I'm saying that I concur with this analysis of our state of being, or rather the state of being of the average Western professional. I am saying my fiercest enemy is not a Bin Laden nor some other bearded Muslim in a cave (my apologies to all Muslims and bearded men; you happen to be the easiest stereotype to pick on). My one true enemy is the eight hour working day, that social convention we have been groomed to accept without question, the assumption of which leaves me constantly exhausted and unsatisfied.
It is so high time we stop being the slaves of our own conventions.
Image by Chris Devers, Creative Commons license