On Toiling for The Man


Stylized picture of me 'working'

One of my favorite things to ponder on when i’m whizzing through Colombo traffic on my bike or when i’m stuck in it, unmoving, in my car is the nature of Work. That dreaded enemy of mankind.

Work is generally what brings us closest to reminding us that were are only a few notches of intellect and conscience above animals, i think. Its an allegory for everything that goes on in the wild.  We fight for survival, eliminate others for success. All for that 30 inch LCD TV and the BMW 7 series brother what? That’s how we roll. I could go on about stalking, hunting, the chase, blood lust, scavengers and rotten carcasses and drying bone. But there is a more important question, Why?

That’s a good question.

Of course, not all people fling themselves off the metaphorical career cliff into the surging waters of corporate advancement, some prefer to ease in, others prefer to rebel against it, even while swimming in it quite happily.

Delilah has a post on it, and Indi wrote about how most Sri Lankan men are languid creatures either drinking cause they don’t have much of a life or happy if they are from a ‘good family’ with a trust fund. By ‘most’ of course, he means some.

What is the point of this post? I don’t know. What is the point of work? To live? sure. But what beyond that? I for myself find that i can’t do anything for long if i don’t like it even if i get paid a million dollars a month (of course i’m lying, i’d probably do a lot of stuff for that kind of money).

Jack Point says “If you like what you do, then its not work”. But do you like what you do after you start doing it or do you pick what you like before you do it? A lot of us are stuck in jobs we don’t like. A lot of us don’t really know what we want, but we just know that what we have is not it.

So then what do you do? Do you fling caution to the wind and quit, and experiment around with a  few different things? A sort of a quest of self discovery? That can quickly turn into unemployment if that ‘caution’ you’re throwing turns out to be heading for one of those massive industrial fans.

I guess it depends on how tied down you are with responsibilities and obligations, these things are chokeholds. And like a dog on a leash they hold you back. You can step away and go sniff the grass and unrinate on my bike but step too far and your leash will tighten around your neck.

I guess what i’m trying to say is we should all experiment when we can. As in when we are young and we aren’t carrying any boulders around. But if you’re happy where you are then great stuff.

By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day – Robert Frost

  1. Well I don’t think it’s that simple… There are young people who don’t have the luxury of experimenting with different jobs. They might have to support their families ’cause their parents have retired and the like.

    As for connecting work to the animal world, I guess it isn’t all that different… It’s all about bringing home the carcass of a wildebeest to feed the family.
    Working for the BMW would be the same as courting. Displaying financial stability so you’ve got better chances of impressing that potential mate.

    So in the end, it’s all about contributing to the continuation of the human species. What I feel is, we’re all going to die anyway so we might as well do something worthwhile as long as we’re here. Take a side-step from the rat race (instead of getting lost in it that you’re almost a robot; no longer aware of why you’re running) and do some charity, help people, animals, the environment. Ok… I think I’ve gone off on a tangent.

  2. Delilah said:

    Funny thing is, I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do since I was 12 years old. But I find myself suddenly weary of it. Yeah, I cant quite explain that.

    As for experimenting while we are young and not so burdened, well I see it the other way. I’d rather study hard, work hard while I can so that I can opt to ‘retire’ early and then start experimenting.

    So even though I can comfortably quit now and dabble in whatever, I’d rather toil while I have the energy, make enough money to quit while I’m still moderately young 🙂

    If I get to do that with a job I like then its a bonus. Even if not I could stomach a less satisfying job if it pays really really well.

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