Sunday, 6 April 2014

Live to Work to Live

The level of busy-ness of our lives seems to be climbing higher and higher. Between the pressures of work and the pressures of parenting, we constantly feel under the pump. Come the weekend, all we want to do is rest. Time? There's time for nothing.
One of the questions the situation raises is "what did we do before we became parents". What did we do with all that time that we now we are missing so badly? It seems hard to recall, but when I think about it I do come up with an answer. I used to work!
I clearly recall a survey I took part in while working in Israel. The findings were clear: my average working day, at the time, was more than 11 hours long. Things were different, back then. Work supplied me with lunch and dinner, and my work colleagues represented the bulk of my social life during the week.

I said it was hard to recall the above. I have to admit I actually forgot about it. As it often happens nowadays, I need to thank my friends for this recollection.
In my previous post, I raved with jealousy at Israel and its thriving high tech industry. It didn't take long for people to correct me. High tech in Israel may be flourishing, but it is not necessarily helping its employees flourish. They are trapped in jobs that demand them to work long hours, and once they pass the age of 40 their chances of acquiring future employment are severely diminished. Or so I was told.
Witnessing the look on the faces of some of my friends discussing their Israeli high tech job prospects at the advanced age of 40, though, it does seem as if the resulting anxiety is genuine.

The whole affair served to remind me something I seemed to have managed to forget by now. As in, it reminded me of some of the core reasons I decided to move from Israel to Australia in the first place. It reminded me how impressed I was with the whole "work to live attitude" Australia seemed to offer, in contrast to the "live to work" approach that dominates the culture I grew up into back in Israel.
It says something about me when nowadays I find it easier to recall the negatives about the Australian high tech industry, or rather the lack of substance in Australia's high tech industry, rather than remember the more important way of life advantage that Australia offers over Israel. People would probably use this against me to declare me a "half glass empty" type of person; I prefer to regard myself as a person who always seeks improvement and is happy to look elsewhere for inspiration.

Regardless, the philosophical discussion at hands puts key cultural differences between Australia and Israel on the agenda. I intend to explore the theme further in an upcoming post.

Image by Belén Montilla, Creative Commons licence


wile.e.coyote said...

Not sure it is Israel vs. Australia, but more of USA and far east vs. EU and Australia.
EU and Australia live on the past revenue, old money and minerals. When that will end you will see a lot of PIIGS running around.
USA, far east (and Israel) got a culture of work as a higher value in life.

It is funny/sad/amusing to look at you that lived most of your younger life in the competition endless race, at a phase that is called "it is 16:30, here is my train home"

Moshe Reuveni said...

I'll leave the argument about the value of work to a post I might live to write, eventually.

I will, however, make a couple of notes. First, Australia acquires much of its wealth through immigration, too. That's particularly relevant at Victoria, where there's not much mining going on: immigration means there's demand for real estate, and that drives a lot of the economy. By choosing who comes it is also able to steal talent from other countries.

Second: "you that lived most of your younger life in the competition endless race". What most of my younger life are you talking about? School? Army? University? The only time I took part in your competition endless race was when I started working full time, which - in the grand scheme of my life - was a relatively short period. It ended when I decided I'd be better off elsewhere.
Your argument is wrong. The 16:30 part came quickly, not slowly.