Posts Tagged ‘work’

The myth of the 40-hour work week

July 4, 2017

Recently I heard someone entering the workforce saying that he hoped his new job would not entail working more than 40 hours per week.

Since that time, I’ve spoken with several people about their jobs and asked if they work just 40 hours per week. Here’s what I learned:

  • My brother is a carpenter. He works rain or shine. “The work has to get done even if the ground is muddy or the temperature is roasting (or freezing). I work a lot more than 40 hours per week.”
  • A family friend is a lawyer. “I’ve worked my whole life, work is all I know, it’s a thing I love doing. I work much more than 40 hours per week.”
  • A fellow down the road fixes lawn mowers and snow blowers. He spends 20-30 hours each week on that business. In addition, he puts in 40 hours a week at another job.
  • A friend of mine designs and sells clothes online. She is always working, 7 days a week, morning, afternoon, and evening.
  • Another lawyer friend recently told me that he works 7 days a week.
  • My brother-in-law is a medical researcher. The only time he’s not working is when he’s on vacation. Even then, he keeps plugged in.
  • Personally, I work a lot. I am always pushing myself to keep on top of technology. For good or for bad, work is my life.

Conclusion: The 40-hour work week is a myth.

A day in my childhood is profoundly influencing me now

April 3, 2017

Today I remembered a particular day in grade school (perhaps 3rd or 4th grade). It was recess and I was playing with two friends. It was exciting. It must have been a Friday because the next day there was no school. I felt depressed. I wanted that excitement again. I think that I even walked to school, somehow hoping that my friends would be there. But the playground was empty. It saddened me, deeply. Oddly, I see the same kind of thing playing out, now. My workdays are exciting. Each morning I open my instant messenger, Skype, which lights up with bright green colors, indicating that my colleagues are online. Throughout the workdays I have an exciting, intense time interacting with my colleagues. Then the weekend arrives. When I open Skype, it displays all red – nobody’s online. It saddens me, deeply.

A sad commentary on today’s culture by philosopher Alan Watts

January 11, 2015

A sad commentary on our culture by philosopher Alan Watts (read the following words as you watch this fabulous video Human Culture – Alan Watts):

We want to get everything done as fast as possible.

We want to convert the rhythms and skills of work into cash, which indeed you can buy something with it but you can’t eat it.

We rush home to get away from work and begin the real business of life, to enjoy ourselves.

For the vast majority of American families, what seems to be the real point of life – what you rush home to get to – is to watch an electronic reproduction of life (TV). You can’t touch it, it doesn’t smell, and it has no taste.

You might think that people getting home to the real point of life in a robust, material culture would go home to a colossal banquet or a riot of music and dancing. But nothing of the kind.

It turns out to be this purely passive contemplation of a twittering screen.

You see mile after mile of darkened houses, with that little electronic screen flickering in the room. Everybody isolated, watching this thing. And thus in no real communion with each other, at all.

This isolation of people into a private world of their own is really the creation of a mindless crowd.

And so we don’t get with each other, except for public expressions of getting rid of our hostility like football or prize fighting.

Even in the spectacles on sees on this television, it’s preferable and proper to exhibit people slugging and slaying each other. But not people loving each other.

One can only draw the conclusion, the assumption underlying this is that expressions involving physical love are far more dangerous than expressions of physical hatred.

It seems to me that a culture that has this sort of assumption is basically crazy and is devoted, unintentionally, not to survival but to the actual destruction of life.

Such deep passion for the work that all else is dull and colorless

June 21, 2014

I get motivated and charged-up when I hear about people who immerse themselves so deeply in their work (or in their hobby or something), who have great drive and purpose.

Below is one of the world’s top young neurosurgeons talking to his female colleague, who is one of the world’s top neurologists. It is the evening, at the end of a mind-blowingly intense day of surgery. They are talking on the rooftop of the hospital where they both work and they are looking out over the evening city lights:

Every dinner party I’ve ever been to, no matter what the occasion, I’m bored out of my mind. Bored by the normal, bored by the happy, the unhappy couples, bored out of my mind by families. Good, bad, or indifferent.

There’s only one thing that interests me. It’s this [work, surgery]. What is there in a dinner party, a gallery opening, a movie, a novel, a Broadway show, that could compare with the case we had today [brain surgery]. Everything else is dull, without color.

You know what I do when I’m not here? I make time. I eat and I sleep. You know where I live? In the Hotel Mirabella. When I get bored with that I’ll move to a new hotel. No obligations, no strings. Every morning I wake up and the day is there before me. The job, the work, it’s incomparable.

Dr. Ian Bickman
Black Box