Philosophy, Top Stories

Work—the Tragedy of Our Age

The only text I vividly remember from my university semester in Classics is a poem by Hesiod entitled Works and Days. I read Homer, of course, and Virgil, and Ovid, and the three tragedians, but their texts have long become a blur of strange names, strange desires, inventive use of parataxis and the word “destiny.” But I remember Hesiod. Memory is a peculiar thing.

Hesiod is the seventh century BC management book writer. He didn’t write about digital strategy, but his poems drone on in the earnest monotone of an old-school sociology lecturer who—after years of correcting student papers—decides to try his hand at fine letters. Hesiod is ace at conveying fact, but not at re-inventing it. This makes him a fine chronicler, but not a poet. I cannot imagine anyone reading Works and Days today for anything other than anthropological curiosity.

I don’t remember all 800 lines of Works and Days—just five stanzas: one for each of the Five Ages of Men. First came the Golden Age, in which the land was bounteous, the forests were rich with game, and men were decent, happy, and favoured by the gods. But this state of bliss didn’t last. Cracks began to appear during the next generation with the emergence of the Silver Race—small crooks and delinquents who “could not keep from sinning and from wrongdoing one another.” Zeus didn’t like them and eventually killed them off. The third generation, the Bronze Race, managed to be an even greater disgrace, a bunch of hoodlums of great physical strength with “unconquerable arms which grew from their shoulders on their strong limbs.” (I find this image rather powerful. It reminds me of my gym on a Friday night.) Things looked up momentarily during the subsequent Heroic Age, as Zeus created a “god-like race of hero-men called demi-gods.” But everything went definitively, irrevocably tits-up in the fifth and final age: the Iron Age. Land became barren, crops wilted, stock died of disease; men were poor, men were bitter, son betrayed father, neighbour killed neighbour, chaos and treachery ruled.

As a story of decline and fall, it’s a nice one (although I’ve seen better). In terms of literary merit, it’s nowhere near Homer. So why am I harping on Hesiod? (Now do pay attention, as here comes the point of this essay.) The key variable between the time when men were happy and the time when they were not, according to Hesiod, is work. “In the Golden Age,” he writes, men “lived like gods… remote and free from… hard toil…” But in the Iron Age, “men never rest from labour…” Writing about the Iron Age—the age of hard work and misery—Hesiod wrote about his own time, but he also wrote about our time. We live in the Iron Age. It is a sad age. It is the age when people have to work. And work kills the spirit.

Few of us are talented enough to make a living from the exercise of our passion. So, driven by economic necessity, we fall into “jobs.” Most of these jobs are superfluous and invented—I’m sure of it!—to keep the talentless population employed. “Little girls don’t grow up wanting to become a prostitute,” or so the trope goes. And that is probably true. But it is also probably true that little girls don’t grow up wanting to become “vice-president for real-time card payments.” Or “senior manager for content licensing.” Or anything with “talent development” or “HR” in the title. Don’t get me wrong, these jobs have their uses. If you are a good vice-president for real-time card payments, someone, somewhere will be paid in real time. And that is a cause for joy. But how many of us are stoical enough to be motivated by the vague image of a nameless, faceless customer we will never meet, and about whom, let’s be honest, we don’t really care, when we push open the door of our open-plan at nine in the morning and brace ourselves for 10 hours of drudgery?

By a stroke of mad luck, I came across an essay on Robert Musil, the author of The Man Without Qualities, in Paris Review. It included a quote which perfectly articulates what I anticipate will be the main objection to this article: “The most important thing is not to produce spiritual values,” writes Musil, “but food, clothing, security, order.” Indeed, why do I concern myself with a subject so esoteric? A matter so niche? Spirit, passion… Who cares, when there are real problems in the world, such as war, hunger, poverty, and disease? People doing hard manual labour to scrape by? Try talking to them about Hesiod. And isn’t denigrating work both ridiculous and futile? We need work to ensure our physical survival. Without work, we will die. I agree unequivocally: these matters take priority. But they are also written about extensively, and by commentators who are far better qualified than I am. What I worry about is unrealised spirituality. This is my niche and the hill on which I will die. The dichotomy between what we originally want to be and what, due to the limitations of talent, circumstance, luck and, most of all, economics, we end up being, is as real as it is tragic. It is the curse of the Iron Age.

A Gallup poll found that 85 percent of people hate their jobs. Business schools would say that this is due to poor strategy, poor leadership, or poor innovation. Nothing that cannot be fixed with an MBA degree. The real explanation is much simpler, however: 85 percent of people hate their jobs because, given the choice, they would never do them in the first place. Twenty years ago, I applied to a business school. A good one. Actually, one of the best. When the acceptance letter arrived, I was convinced that I’d been admitted under some female quota, as my abilities are perfectly average. Then I started the course and realised that so were everyone else’s. No one in my class was especially bright. Or if they were, it was of the topical, tactical sort of intelligence—one that allows a person to see the different angles but somehow totally miss the point. The course itself was akin to vocational training: two months of accounting, two months of strategy, two months of marketing, and then off you go, ripe and ready for the office. Sorry, for leadership—which is telling other people in the office what to do.

We do, of course, have a choice. If you don’t like office work, you can become a PE teacher. If you are bad with authority, start your own business. The corporate sector is too greedy for you? Join an NGO. How glorious our lives would be if things were so simple. Regrettably, they are not. Nicolai Berdyaev, a Russian religious philosopher during the first half of the 20th century, argued—quite convincingly—that this choice to which we habitually refer is not really a choice at all. There is no freedom in it. It is a decision to adjust, adapt, and fit in. It is not a choice to create. At best, it is the choice of an animal looking for food and shelter, not of a human agent created in God’s image. He was right. As we leave childhood and the need to earn a living becomes increasingly urgent, our dreams start getting trimmed and trampled and squashed, until there comes a day when we no longer remember them. We begin by seeking the sublime. We end up resigned to the ordinary.

Very few books have been written on this subject, but George Perec’s 1965 novel Les Choses is one of them. It masterfully depicts our need for spiritual satisfaction and an equally powerful need for material comfort. And then there is Oblomov, a classic by the 19th century Russian novelist Nikolai Goncharov. It’s about an amiable loafer, profoundly indifferent to the fuss and fumble of reality, who spends his days in a world of dreams and make-believe. Oblomov is a sympathetic antihero, but the message of Goncharov’s novel is that we certainly should not emulate his lifestyle. Nevertheless, when Oblomov is visited by a friend who works in civil service, he reflects (in my liberal translation): “My Lord, what does Man waste his soul on? He’s nothing more than a minor executor of someone else’s minor thoughts. How little of Man is needed here, hardly any intellect, hardly any will, hardly any feeling. Does he deserve to be called a Man? He violates his nature, trades off his soul. The wretch!” That sounds about right. And very modern. Camus could’ve written those lines.

So why does a goofball character written in 1859 sound like a prophet today? Perhaps because when Goncharov wrote Oblomov, God was still alive. In that world, we were free to labour pragmatically, secure in the knowledge that there would be plenty of time to indulge the spirit later on. But since Nietzsche killed God, this life is all we have. So if your seven-odd decades on this planet are spent in digital marketing, this is all you will ever be. And don’t kid yourself that you are doing this for your kids, because chances are high they’ll end up in digital marketing as well.

The worst part of my 20-year office career was the meetings. Not because of difficult colleagues or clients. Because I couldn’t believe how anyone could take the stuff we discussed seriously. For an hour we would debate which adjective to assign to the term “financial performance” in the chairman’s statement of an annual report. Or, how to create the culture of “shared values.” Was everyone pretending? And if they were not, is this really how men and women—those enigmatic creatures at the centre of creation—are meant to spend their time? So I developed an effective coping technique. I recited this stanza to myself:

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!

The guy who wrote it—Edgar Allan Poe—lived in desperate poverty for most of his life. He died at 40, no one knows why, straggling the streets of Baltimore, haggard and delirious, with “lusterless eyes,” unkempt, in torn pantaloons and soiled frock, lost and alone. He had faced humiliation and despair and indignity, burning his clothes to keep warm, pleading with his family for money. He could have got a job, surely, in an ad agency (there was already a few of those around). Can you imagine the copy he might have knocked out? But instead, he wrote The Raven. And The Black Cat. And Eldorado. Just like Robert Musil, who didn’t heed his own advice and spent 20 years writing The Man Without Qualities, a novel which is up there with Mann and Proust and Joyce. Poe and Musil made the choice that most of us are too craven to make.

What went through Poe’s mind when he lay dying in a windowless hospital room reserved for drunks and vagabonds? Did he regret his poverty? Did he wish he had the comforts and joys that wealth could have afforded him? I’m sure he did. The appeal of the material is very strong. But so will the rest of us one day regret living a manky, derivative life of office jobs and ignoring the fact that maybe there is something of Poe in each of us. Or perhaps there’ll be the Sixth Age of Men—the Digital Age—in which AI will feed us as the land once did.

But enough of this esoterica. I have real work to do: an annual report to review and an important decision to take. Which adjective should I assign to “financial performance”? I am thinking “satisfactory,” “consistent” or maybe “in line with expectations.” Poe would be proud.

 

Elena Shalneva is a London-based journalist, writing about books, film and culture. Her work has appeared in Standpoint and City AM. She has published several short stories, and is currently completing her first collection. She is also guest lecturer at King’s College London. You can follow her on Twitter @ShalnevaE

Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash

Comments

  1. One of my dad’s favorite quotes: “The only thing worse than working is not working.”

    And to the author, feel free to stop working and develop your spiritual life. Knock yourself out. Just don’t expect me to feed, clothe, and house you while you do so.

  2. Well, she doesn’t have to go all buddhist monk. But she could stop doing the job she hates, and find one one she doesn’t hate.

    I distinguish between work and a job. Your work is whatever you feel makes the best use of your creative and productive powers. Your job makes you money. Your work may not be your job, for example a woman who does night shift at minimum wage cleaning so she can help put her child through school: cleaner is her job, being a mother is her work.

    It’s convenient if they’re the same, but not necessary.

    There are a lot of bullshit jobs, but that doesn’t mean you have to do one. Don’t worry, someone else will fill the vacancy for you. There’s never a shortage of people who want to be PR consultants, diversity managers or set intimacy co-ordinators.

  3. A nice read!
    I get impatient with discussions about job satisfaction, “do what you love”, etc. In the stone age, we earned a living by killing and foraging for our food. It was, no doubt, a rather dramatic existence, with savage predators, cunning rivals and deadly diseases always lurking, and also a very short life expectancy. I wonder: who among us would trade half their lifespan for an existence like that? Boredom would never be an issue, I’ll wager. I’ll also wager that few would make that trade. Don’t like your job? I get that. Find a new one. Feel the need to find your passion? To paint watercolors? Learn the guitar? Take lessons in your spare time. Meanwhile, be grateful for having a longer, healthier life than anyone ever had before, and more choices (even if they’re not all you’d like) than most throughout history could ever dream of.

  4. Too many young people buy into the BS love your job fantasy. It is a job. They have to pay you to do it and if they didn’t pay you, you would not do it.

    “The real explanation is much simpler, however: 85 percent of people hate their jobs because, given the choice, they would never do them in the first place.” True!

    Look for happiness in friends and family. Strive for a job that allows either through wealth or time pursuit of one’s favorite leisure activities. Football hero, rock star, movie star are reserved for only a talented few. Those looking for happiness and fulfillment at work are looking in the wrong place. Also take pride in your work no matter what the job, and it will give you a sense of satisfaction.

  5. Maybe I’m odd, and the survey suggests so, but on the whole I’m been very happy with work. Some jobs have even been blessings. This is not to say I haven’t had crap jobs, dreadful bosses, and displeasing coworkers. Still, the couple of bad jobs I had gave me the kick in the pants to make sure to improve so I wouldn’t be stuck with that for the rest of my life.

    Work, both my own and my father’s when I was a lad, has allowed me to live in many countries.

    Through work I’ve made some of my greatest friends and many good acquaintances. My best non-family mentor was not a teacher but a boss. In the majority of my jobs I felt genuinely appreciated; I think because I give far more than what’s expected. When I worked offsite at the customers’ offices I was pitched to jump ship several times and even had one customer refuse to allow my employer to reassign me to a new customer. And when I moved on from one job to another, it often caused me sorrow.

    I’ve learnt a tremendous number of skills that allowed me to not only earn an income but use those to build wealth outside of work. It was these skills and the personal networks I made that allowed me to start my own company. I’m fortunate now that I no longer rely on work for my money but have my money work for me.

    Agreed.

  6. Up until 1945 in the Western world it was mainly the case that the rich were idle and the poor had to work. Yes, a lot of the upper and upper middle classes undertook some paid employment, but the ideal was to be someone who didn’t need to work. My father told me that whenever his father was called upon back in the 1920s to put his occupation down in a hotel register he put ‘‘gentleman’’ because he lived off family funds invested by his stockbroker. That was the reality for many people in the 19th and early 20th centuries. An ancestor had made a fortune and his descendents lived off the income made on the invested capital or rents from land.

    It is clear that the social prestige attaching to being a rentier had a strong pull not just throughout the elite, but also through the middle classes too. A gentleman might go into politics or the professions, but this was done on the basis of service to the community rather than as a means to making a fortune.

    And because society had a high number of genteel families who had leisure time in abundance, social life was far more important. These were people who needed there to be an organised social round, as they had in effect retired beofre they had started work. They needed to fill their days. One of the benefits of this was that the leisured classes had a lot more time to undertake ‘‘good works’’. on behalf of the poor and indigent. They also patronised artists, because they had time to be interested.

    But all of this was swept away as the Empire faded, consumerism took off and inflation made it more difficult to survive on a fixed income. And women wanted careers.

    Now it would seem that the rich work very hard indeed. I do have a few friends and acquaintances who were lucky enough to rettire ealry with large fotunes, and who live a life of leisure. But as one of them has told me, it is quite odd because most of their friends are still working and there is no large leisure class with all the rituals and events that existed when to be a member of such a class was the ideal.

    I often wish that the ambition to join the leisured classes was once more the general ambition of of our society. If the expectation was there, I’m certain that many people would find a way to join this class, if it were seen to be more prestigious than working as an HR consultant.

  7. I’ll make some assumptions about you, not judgemental, just to test my theory. You may or may not confirm this. Because of your experiences you are 40+, extroverted, likely not from the US, jobs mostly in Europe or Australia.

    I think the issue is a psychological one. I wanted to make this comment on the other thread about the income inequality.

    My theory is that all these problems are tied into the accelerated mobility of the people, which technology has greatly aided in last 2-3 decades. The current culture and economy demands and encourages people to move from location to location. Most extroverted people will be fine, however the introverted people will be in more trouble. Mobility is great to better match talent with business and grow the economy more efficiently, but it also has this unfortunate side effect.

    More so in the US, I don’t think people really understand the meaning of real friendships. Something that you can not really develop over 2-3 years. You can make friends at work and that’s great, but those people move away and you have to start over again. Tradition, ceremonies, rituals help to cement peoples sense of self and belonging which help mental health.

    In the past people had communities in which they were recognized and respected, no matter the shitty job they had. Most people probably worked together at the same place for many years. During work they were thinking of the people and plans they would have after work. Everybody was miserable which bonded people and they were still happy. I see this a lot in the South American countries.

    When you don’t feel respected and belonging to some good group of people, you start comparing yourself more, indulging in consumerism, less trusting, more stressed, constantly searching for status to get into some club, group.

  8. I liked the bit about meetings. It’s a peculiar British obsession. At one place, we used to have 8.00 team meetings to make sure we were covered for the 9.00 meeting. I even had one relatively senior woman, who should have known better, phone me up to invite me to a meeting about parking- when anyone with any sense will tell you that you should never, never involve yourself in the ongoing controversy of staff parking- it’s like trying to referee a no-hold-barred adult version of musical chairs.

    But my best advice is to find an agency that can place you in as many varied temping and short term situations as they can, over a relatively short period of time. It’s because it gives you a sense of what you’re good at. What you might like and what you might make you valued. Quite apart from the fact that this process will be very much to your pecuniary advantage, with employers willing to pay more or offer better training and opportunities to the most able, we derive a great deal of meaning and purpose from being good at what we do, from being valued.

    It doesn’t matter whether you’re a bartender, a data manager, a barista or a surveyor, there is an almost spiritual quality to picking up on the cues that tell you that your work is appreciated and that you are making a valuable contribution to your organisation. Obviously, there is also status- our societies do an awful days work, when they tell us to look down on some types of work, and up at others- to the extent that some well-to-do types won’t even make a workman a cup of tea or coffee when they come round their house to do some work (I hope they get stitched on the price). People should always be valued, for providing a service that is of value to others- a couple of Christmases spent lifting an elderly relative up and down off the toilet, helping them with their trousers, certainly gave me a newfound appreciation for the work that career carers do.

    It’s a point that has been raised by Charles Murray, Simon Sinek and Andrew Yang, this crisis that comes from a world that suddenly seems to have less need for us. How do we cope, what provisions should we make as a society and how can we find value in our communities and families? My own personal crisis came after a bereavement and a restructuring at work. Being young, I made the mistake of making myself too indispensable at work, to the extent that my employer would struggle if I was run over by a bus. In the counselling sessions that followed, my counsellor quickly came to the conclusion “that’s very nice Geary, you’ve spent the last two sessions telling me about your work- now tell me about your work- now tell me about you.” I really didn’t have too much to say…

    I found that I had filled my glass up so much with work, that I had excluded almost everything else. Oh sure, I had friends, I had family, I went out at weekends, watched telly in the evenings and read books before sleeping- but 90% of my thoughts were focused towards work, and it showed in my counselling sessions. The more experienced, of course, will tell you that it’s important to develop a modal type of thinking, to leave work at the door of your employers as soon as you get in your car. The Japanese have a culture that is very much geared towards this mode of being, to be in the moment. The best boss or employee, the best husband, host or father. It’s probably why they always tend to be so good at everything, because they are very much focused on the now, attention undivided.

    So where do we go from here? Well we need to rediscover a culture of gratitude for services rendered, no matter how small. We need to abandon the petty one-upmanship of status, and perceived superiority as recompense for doing jobs that we loath, but pay well. We need to reconnect with our families, friends and communities, developing wells of meaning and value, outside the single pillar of vocation. Learn to cook, remember to exercise and find interests and activities, outside of the blinkered existence of modern day living, with it’s frenetic pace and single-minded pursuit. We need to leave behind the more banal excesses of social media, and find new ways for technology to foster our talents and intellectual curiosity, and stop endlessly obsessing over politics, as though we were all armchair quarterbacks rooting for our team.

    We need to stop imagining that our world is a shitty place, and that somewhere there is a magic wand, or policy prescription, that can transform everything for the better. Because wisdom should tell us that when we worry so much about the problems of the world, it betrays a fundamental emptiness in our own lives. It’s the externalisation of our own very personal unhappiness, and the feeling of not being valued that lies at the root of this very modern disease. A bad mismatch of expectation and reality.

    Our teachers and parents have done a rather shitty job of raising our young. They forgot the lessons passed down from their own parents and forebears, the inherited wisdom. Increasingly, it falls to the grandparents to tell the young to go climb a tree, take a risk, find adversity and face it. Because of all of these lessons- the occasional exclusion from peer groups, the losing at races and the stress of Maths, were once tools that helped prepare us for the world before us, developing emotional resilience, so that we could cope with the fact that life is hard, and difficult to fathom. We need to search more for meaning and value wherever it lies, and learn to seek pastures new, without knowing beforehand, whether they are necessarily greener.

  9. It is a sad age. It is the age when people have to work. And work kills the spirit.

    But people have always had to work! And life has probably never been as easy as it is now. Maybe the problem is not work itself, but the fact that an easy life is not the most meaningful one to be had. In fact, I bet that creating a meaningful life is the greatest challenge of our time. Back in the days of subsistence farming, a farmer’s work determined if their family got to live another year – surely this must have been more impactful and meaningful than most of the jobs that exist today.

  10. Michael, you are a kindred soul for me. What a prissy malcontent the author is. If she were born in an earlier age she could not have dreamed of the cushy life she has lived in this age. I am convinced her story is emblematic of the decline of Western Civilization. Our civilization’s people are so fat and unhappy because the challenge is out of their lives and their work.
    What a complainer Elena is, no wonder she is now a writer, she can complain to heart’s content.
    Michael, I am also one of the lucky ones. I started a company with nothing and built it into a large successful business. I have lived my dreams in almost every way. But getting to my dreams was crazy hard work. I believe very few people would have endured what I have.
    The more Elenas we have the swifter will be the decline of of this cushy Western life.
    But I love your attitude Michael, you find a way to lift your spirits by finding Elena so contemptible. I am made happier by your happiness.
    Let us both rejoice that we have found work and life so enjoyable.

  11. I am reminded of the Shaw quote about the true joy in life, to be a force of nature rather than a fiendish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

    The days I watched the clock until quitting time were the worst. The days I lose myself in my work and discover it is past time to leave are the best.

    Create a context for enjoying your job or find another. Make your customers happy and have a good time doing it. Opportunities come from (cheerfully) taking on responsibilities.

  12. Regarding the assertion that 85% of people hate their jobs, a quick read of the linked survey reveals that the claim is utter BS: that Gallup survey measures a nebulous quality called “engagement”, which is claimed to go beyond satisfaction surveys and is marketed as being correlated with corporate success. And if you are a corporate manager, how do you measure engagement? Why, obviously, you pay Gallup to put a survey together for you. Click here for the sales pitch; it’s on the Gallup website.

    So the 85% “non-engaged” survey result is really just a marketing ploy by Gallup to help sell a product. And the author misrepresents this as a genuine social survey with the conclusion that people hate their jobs.

    In fact, 5 minutes with a search engine will show you that job satisfaction survey results are all over the place, but generally within a range of 50-85%. UK workers seem to have lower ratings (67% in this survey). Maybe it’s because they are surrounded by London-based writers who deliberately misrepresent data in order to justify whining about how bad everything is.

  13. I don’t mean to disparage the author here, but I found myself rolling my eyes frequently while reading this essay. I don’t really have a problem with the bits that tackle loss of meaning in life, nor the observation that soul crushing work is sub-optimal. But I was discouraged that the author completely missed, or perhaps, by virtue of her own experiences or station in life, is blind to, that work is the source of meaning for many people. And not in the sense that is alluded to in this piece: that people define themselves by their chosen career and that this can be a danger for it gets in the way of developing true meaning in life (or “spiritual” meaning). Rather, that work is a source of meaning for many people because it is through work, through toil and struggle and the overcoming of difficult obstacles that one achieves happiness (in addition to other things like family, friends, etc.).

    I wonder if the author might not have a true understanding of how to cultivate a happy life. Indeed, she does seem to paint a rather bleak view of things. I kept expecting to see some halfhearted attempt to address the argument that work, regardless of how much you enjoy it or how much spiritual provides enrichment it provides, provides meaning through the imposition of responsibility, through tasks which one must conquer. Merely meeting the challenge of achievement has value in and of itself, even if that achievement might be small or below someone’s station.

    She presents the following as the best refutation of her thesis: “The most important thing is not to produce spiritual values,” writes Musil, “but food, clothing, security, order.” While I don’t disagree with Musil, this seems to be missing the point that people need something to do or they will slip into a dark place. Surely, as Grumpybear points out, not working is far worse than working for the spirit. Has the author considered that someone might read her article, quit their job to pursue some higher truth, and then slip into depression for lack of purpose or toil? I’m sure there are plenty of self employed starving artists who feel purposeless and many coal miners who are proud of the work they do and feel enriched by it, even if they acknowledge that it was never their dream as a child.

    I doubt whether the author would be the sort to read Jordan Peterson with an open mind, but perhaps she should, as Dr. Peterson as a lot to say on the value of work and accepting responsibility, and their importance to living a fulfilled, meaningful life. To quote him here, talking about the value of carrying a heavy load/shouldering a burden: if you refuse to carry a load,

    you’ll be like the sled dog that has nothing to pull. You’ll get bored. People are pack animals. They need to pull against a weight. And that’s not true for everyone. It’s not true for conscientious people. For the typical person, they’ll eat themselves up unless they have a load. This is why there’s such an opiate epidemic among so many dispossessed white, middle aged, unemployed men in the U.S. They lose their job, and then they’re done. They despise themselves. They develop chronic pain syndromes and depression… And you should watch when you talk to young men about responsibility. They’re so thrilled about it. It just blows me away. Really?! That’s what the counter-culture is? Grow up and do something useful. Really? I can do that? Oh, I’m so excited by that idea. No one ever mentioned that before… Responsibility, man. That’s where the meaning in life is.

  14. Oh, for the halcyon days when we didn’t have jobs at all, and all we had to do was build our own shelters, sew our own clothes, and grow or raise/kill our own food, lest we freeze or starve to death!

    We were so free!

  15. Gotta say that there is nothing like work as a balm for what ails you.

    My father died yesterday, on my birthday. I went to work today. There is nothing like knowing that you have 100+ students depending on you showing up, plus a co-teacher that you respect, to keep you balanced and as stable as you can be at a time like this.

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