Thursday, July 12, 2007

Work Ethic

My wife brings me books from the library she thinks I might find interesting. She brought home Total Recall by Sara Paretsky. What a treat! It's a VI Warshawski novel (yes, the one they made a movie about). I've read one or two in the past I enjoy them thoroughly.

In just the prologue, I've already been stirred. I haven't gotten any further, but apparently there is a character named Lotty Herschel who lived in England during WWII. The prologue is titled "Work Ethic." Lotty observes, " was my only salvation... it's a narcotic, the oblivion overwork can bring you." She notes that the Nazis had a slogan over their camps, arbeit macht frei, or work will make you free. Lotty goes on to note, "... work can numb you. If you stop working even for a moment, everything inside you starts evaporating..."

I have mixed feelings about work. I, too, find work a narcotic. For the past seven years, since leaving collegiate studies, I have immersed myself in work. Robotic work. It made the past seven years pass quickly... yet I'm not sure what I gained, other than saying I worked hard for seven years. After I left work my full time job in February, I felt a little lost. I had lost my routine of monotonous work.

Now I'm self-employed and I'll admit it's a bit difficult to adjust. Rather than rote work, I need to perform creative development work. There is no boss setting expectations, there is no SOP for me to follow. I've been conditioned for so long to simply put your head down and work that it's hard to transition to entrepreneurial work.

Like Lotty, I found work a salve. It was my escape. It wore me down over time, however. It drained all my creative power. But I do miss it. I miss being 'productive' in the traditional sense. I miss it to the point that I'm often tempted to pull out the classifieds and start submitting resumes. Just so I can get the high of working. George Foreman was on David Letterman (or perhaps it was Conan O'Obrien) recently, and George spoke about how there was no better feeling than waking up in the morning and having a job to go to.

I agree with George. George is an entrepreneur, however. He doesn't have a typical 8-5 job. He has business ventures, in addition to his sports profession. But it seemed that to him, these were jobs to him. That he gets up every day to attend to his job. I need to do that. I need to structure my life so that my entrepreneurial ventures fulfill that narcotic lust for work.

Paretsky, Sara. Total Recall. New York: Delacorte Press, 2001.

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