Sunday, February 26, 2012

Happiness, Work and Rest

I still feel guilty for taking a weekend off from work – and my work is not even paid. This puritanical American history combined with the fury of capitalism had cast us into a culture where work reigns supreme. It is the be-all and end-all, the answer for everything. While I was in the law/MBA program, a single mom, as well as the sole supporter of my child, a weekend off was not even a remote possibility. I remember the first time I did not work for a weekend after “getting out” and the deep feeling of guilt that followed. It has lessened over the years, but not by much.

Intellectually, I know the best thing for work is to take time off. Yet, I expect myself to be a work-horse until the last minute of life. When I was young, I believed my main virtue was that I always worked hard. Now I know I am more than just a worker, but still; some part of that sentiment remains.

I took the day off today. I spent the morning dozing and thinking about dreams, and then lazily went about my morning exercise routine. All the while keeping thoughts of work at bay. The to-do list generated in my head and I kept pushing it aside, though I never really forgot.

It did not make me happy to try to forget, and it does not make me happy to be working on a weekend. I am caught in this paradigm of work and work – where rest is something you do when you die. Just like so many others in the “developed” and “developing” nations, and if our current system has its way, like everybody on this planet.

Do we want this? Do we want a world where work reigns supreme? Where being a hard worker is what defines us? I do not, but really, I do not know how to escape this way of thinking. It will take a rethinking in our society to understand that work is not the be-all and end-all, and I hope that the work I am doing will help make this happen – for future generations, and maybe even for ours. In the meantime, its Sunday night – time for rest.

Laura Musikanski, ED of HI

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