Monday, November 12, 2012

Work. And death.

You've probably read by now Linds Redding's post "A Short Lesson in Perspective." If you haven't, you should.

I won't say what we all say now if something is more than three lines long. "It's long, but it's worth it." Thereby abnegating every complicated thought ever thought. But I will say that Linds' piece is beautiful, important and worth copying and keeping some place you can find it again. We all need pieces like Linds' for all those many times when things at work get stupid (stupider than usual) and out of hand.

I have a friend, my oldest friend, who at just 54 has been stricken with cancer. He doesn't know when he will die. But his life, his family and his work are all changed and he's forced to look at all the decisions he's made to build his career that may or may not be deemed wasted because now he has cancer.

Here's the thing--and this is only my feeble point of view. The point of view from a guy who may have packed on a few extra pounds, who may worry about a splotch on my skin here, or a shortness of breath there, but who is, by all applications, relatively hale and healthy.

We are all going to die.

Having cancer or any other ailment just heightens that fact.

But we're all going to die.

And you should live every day of your life as if this could be your last.

That doesn't mean you should forget about work and live for your family only. As much as you might like to.

What it means is you should pour your completeness into everything. Work, family, your passions and your loves.

Work, for all its banality, callowness, meaningless emptiness, presents us with a choice. How do we want to live, to conduct ourselves, to perform? How do we want to do our jobs, treat people around us?

It's simple to decry the ridiculous aspects of work. The endless meetings. The perseveration about things that matter to no one. The whims and caprices of the small and ego-driven.

Unfortunately, those things are life, as well. Life isn't about avoiding the asinine. It's about how we handle it. How we balance it. How we laugh at it. How we don't let it eat us alive.

I guess if I had to do my whole life over again, I'd have stayed three weeks or four in Australia, instead of two. There really was no need to rush back to the office. If I could hit the reset button, I'd work fewer late nights, obsess about fewer early mornings.

But for the most part work has worked for me. It's allowed me to raise my children, send them to the best schools. Hold my daughters' hands and walk down the street. It's allowed me a comfortable apartment in a suitably boring part of town. It's allowed me to travel to places I wouldn't have traveled and it's given me the time and money I need to surround myself with the books and movies I love.

I guess there are those who fantasize living in a hut and sleeping in a hammock, fully in synch with the circadian rhythms of life.

That's ok.

I prefer work.

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