“How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun.” -Thomas Merton
We are a work obsessed culture. And we seem to have come to abuse the term in much the same way we do the words ‘love’ and ‘friendship’. ‘Work’ has now come to be associated with 60+ hour weeks, an absurd pride in all the deprivation that implies and lying to ourselves that this is ‘necessary’. It’s not. What it is is a symptom of our collective cultural insanity.
When will we mature into a society that has a more deeply rooted sense of inherent worth and respect? All this stuffing our calendars full of obligations to the god of work at the expense of almost every other aspect of life is bound to end badly. There’s a reason we now live for vacations to more impoverished sunny locales where life may be less hectic and a different orientation to life seems apparent. Think about it: Resorts are nothing more than the modern day equivalent of ye olde sanatarium of the late 19th and early 20th centuries – places to convalesce from various nervous and other mental disorders.
It is well beyond time we conjure some semblance of self-respect and acknowledge more deeply that we are paying an enormous price at every level of society for our failure to say no to work of the variety that flogs us insensible to the fact that we will die one day and that there are other things worth living for.
A life worth living is one that makes us look forward to the week ahead, that is filled with projects that inspire our creative capacities and that ripple out to affect the lives of others in ways that then inspire and edify them as well. I think perhaps we have lost sight of the possibility that life doesn’t have to be as difficult as we are currently making it. Our work should be serving us, not the other way round.
As much as anything else we’re here to enjoy our lives – to live lives of our own creation and to experience a greater sense of integrity, fulfillment and ease because, well, why wouldn’t we?