The Working Life

Ever since I graduated from college about 6 years ago, I have been searching for work. I don’t mean literally looking for a job (although I have spent a fair amount of time doing that). What I mean is really searching for work that felt right. I loved college—the learning, the creative thinking, the study of things I love. I had jobs all through high school and college, and didn’t mind them as a way to make some extra cash, but the minute I stepped out of college and found work to be my “main gig,” work became a struggle for me.

There seemed to be a gigantic disconnect between what jobs were available and what excited me. It was like they were two completely separate things with no available place for intersection. Since I needed to work to make money (and working took up a whole lot of time) this meant I would have to spend a whole lot of time concerned with things that I was not passionate about.

As I worked my way through several jobs in several different environments, this idea remained constant: work was work and it wasn’t really supposed to intersect with what you liked to do. You do what you love on the weekend or when you retire. All of my coworkers were living in the “daily grind’ mentality—“the clock staring, minute counting, how many hours until the weekend” mentality. Every day was either a recounting of the glory of the former weekend or a countdown until Friday.

While working in these jobs and actually meeting people who would say, “I hate this job, but I only have 5 more years until retirement” (FIVE MORE YEARS!!??? That’s FIVE YEARS of YOUR LIFE!!!), I started to think, to scream, to chant: “There must be a better way!” Basically, my alarm bells were going off every single day in the form of severe, churning, desperate dread that sat in my chest before, during and after work. I literally felt sick with frustration.

Now, if you follow this blog, then you have probably already heard this story before, and you know that it’s not one of those stories of great and sudden triumph, at least not yet. Rather, my story is a story of small and subtle shifts: through the last 3 years I have begun to find the other path through art-making (and this blog). But the real reason I’m writing this today is not to go on about my troubles and triumphs, but rather to start a discussion.

I read quite a lot of books on career development, career finding, career everything, and other self-help and psychology books. This weekend, I was quite excited to find a book on the topic that I had never seen before: Zen and the Art of Making a Living by Laurence G. Boldt. I’ve just started reading the book, but already I am enthralled with the topics. Boldt talks about how Western society defines the purpose of work as “getting security, status, and consumer items.” How we are taught to get a “good” job to make money, so we can buy things and feel secure and have the status that “things” will give us.

While it would be impossible to put Boldt’s idea of the alternative into a nutshell, he essentially says that people are beginning to feel that this is not enough, that “Work is more than gaining privileges and possessions; it is ongoing, ecstatic, LIVING experience.”

So, I would like to ask, what is the purpose of work to you? Have you found a way to integrate your passionate true self into your work? How? Why? Why not?

{All of the dictionary definition images above are from my trusty Oxford Concise English Dictionary}


5 Responses to “The Working Life”

  1. 1 spunkyness April 12, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    This is something I think about a lot. For now my day job is exactly that – a day job. Like so many people my job is for money to pay the bills, and so that I can enjoy my life outside of “work.” My goal is to progress towards that time when my work and passion come together and what I love to do is how I make a living! I am currently working on the steps I believe I need to take to get me there by going back to school and dedicating more quality time to my art! I also started a blog in part to try to hold myself more accountable (publicly) and get myself out there! I wish more people could do what they love for a living. People would be so much happier!

  2. 2 erasmith April 12, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot too. Right now my “day job” sounds great on paper, right in line with what I want to be doing. But in reality, it takes me away from the projects at home that mean more to me, so it still feels like a “day job.” I’m starting to scheme on how I can make money doing the things that I’m currently doing for free. That’s my new challenge.

  3. 3 artproject2010 April 13, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    I’m in a really similar boat to yours, chickadee. I’m trying to give artmaking a go as an income-producing, full-time gig. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping I don’t have to suck it up and go back to some shitty, soul-killing, penny-tosser again. I’m not a psychic, so who knows what the end result will be, but I may have to read that book. Great post!

  4. 4 jessea91 April 20, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    I came across the book as advise from my acupunturist. I am “transitioning” out of the construction industry, after bieng a finish carpenter and exploring the artistic side of myself I find no passion in the COMMODITY world. I have found the book to be a page turner but redundent. I have just envisioned my UTOPIA and feel I have some direction! The best to you on your journey.

  1. 1 A New Direction « blue bicicletta Trackback on November 6, 2010 at 9:06 am

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Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Some Thoughts

"Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
and then be ready for what will
come pouring from the spring."

{from "Joy at Sudden Disappointment"
translated by C. Barks.}

~This Work ~

Unless otherwise noted, all images and writings on this blog were created by me, Nicole K. Docimo aka Blue Bicicletta. If you would like to share anything you see here for inspirational purposes online, I just ask that you kindly let folks know where you found it. If you are wanting to share/reproduce any of my work in any other way, or have any questions about how you will be sharing the work in relation to copyright, please contact me directly at nkdocimo {at} gmail {dot} com. Thanks!

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