Today is Sunday but this post isn’t a lament about the end of the weekend, just a continuation of my pondering on the role of work in my life. Is fulfillment found in the absence of work? Are relationships fostered and strengthened by sloth? Does retirement mean mean the end of productivity?
Currently I am employed as a representative for a Labor Union, did I choose this profession? No, work like this chooses you. The men and women who early in life actively seek positions representing for the rights of others are, in my opinion, the scary ones that often give organizations like Unions a bad name. SQUIRREL What I am trying to get at is that even in a position where your labor serves others daily I have found that the sense of accomplishment/fulfillment generally only endures approximately 3 days. In the field it’s said that a dozen atta-boys are wiped out by a single fuck-up, it’s the same when you’re trying to help people. All it takes is one unreasonable person in self denial to wipe out a months good work.
I have been very happily married for over 25 years, and that doesn’t mean that everything has been wine and roses. Like any couple Karen and I have had our ups and downs but in retrospect the downs have usually begun and been fostered by a lack of effort on one or both of our parts. A good relationship must have a basis in consideration and respect, both of which can easily be taken for granted. The effort a couple put into maintaining a happy, health relationship can take many forms but in my experience the benefits are long lasting and the payback far outpaces the input.
One of the wonderful things about being in a Labor Union is that your career and the relationships developed during that career don’t evaporate when you retire. To one extent or another most Unions have retiree’s clubs with functions that allow members, retired or not, to come together, socialize, relive, and share. This interaction of the past, present, and future is something that is sadly missing in modern America. SQUIRREL Over the years I have noticed that the retirees that do the best and live the longest are the ones that keep on working. Not necessarily for wages but in some endeavor that gives them a reason to get up in the morning and feel like they’re needed. That could be taking care of their grandkids, volunteering in the community, being a campsite host, or pursuing a hobby.
The unifying concept I am trying to express is that the most satisfying labor you can perform isn’t necessarily for wages. Work performed for the benefit of others, either directly such as volunteering at local charity, or indirectly such as trying to make this world a little better by trying to practice a sustainable lifestyle, is much more lastingly satisfying than just making money. There are a lucky few where these two types of labor coincide but unfortunately that is more the exception rather than the rule.