One of the important things I’ve learned about myself, and it took me 40+ years to figure it out, is that I’m not cut out for having a job. Of course, I’ve had jobs, and in every case I’ve eventually grown to resent them. I come to despise the financial hold that jobs have over me, the control they take of my time, and the waste they make of my energy.
It has been a recurring theme that began back in college when I found myself disliking any course that smacked to me of vocational training, while loving my classes with names like “The Sociology of Leisure,” “The Biology of Animal Behavior,” and “Mann, Kafka, Hesse, In Translation.” During my years working for the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, I squirmed around so uncomfortably in the job, that I would arrive at the office at 5 a.m., and leave to go home at 2 p.m., anything apparently to be somehow in charge of my daily life. I grew a beard, wore bow ties and suspenders, and kept a collection of toys in my office, but none of it worked.
I suppose this could simply be written off as immaturity on my part, and maybe it is, but what I’ve come to understand about myself is that I do much, much better in the world when I’m pursuing a “calling” rather than a job.
Most teachers I know, like me, consider their vocation as a calling. The ministers I’ve known feel the same way, as do most of the artists. Indeed there are teachers, preachers, and creative types who’ve managed to make millions, but most of us could easily earn more money elsewhere. We’re not in it for the money, and that’s what makes it a calling rather than a job.
Compulsory public education had its origins in the industrial revolution, and was at its core vocational. As we moved into an age of economic centralization and mass production, commercial interests needed a trained workforce, and for many, maybe most, that’s what education remains today. We go to school ultimately in order to get jobs as doctors, lawyers, accountants or advertising executives. What are you going to be when you grow up? When are you going to declare a major? How are you going to use an English degree? These are all, at bottom, questions about how you’re going to make money.
They are questions about jobs and I've tried, but I find them uninteresting. The question that I’m instead cursed to always return to is: Time is short, how am I spending it? Chasing money seems like the ultimate waste of the only resource we really have.
And I’m not alone:
His art that gets washed away with each tide, and I don’t think this guy is wasting a second of his time.
Sink or Float: an exploration with nature
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