What is work and what is not work are questions that perplex the wisest of men.We live in difficult times.
Sigh. Oh yes, we do.
Financial woes, environmental disaster, existential angst. What's an American to do?
Win the lottery! Yes, that is an excellent solution. Ha ha. Shrug, sigh. Seen any good movies lately?
What? Is this the best solution we can come up with? C'mon, we're Americans! We can do better than that. I have a solution, and it's good for your mental health, too:
Yes, work. Work!
Instead of waiting, wondering, and complaining: let's just get down to work and working and digging into our own lives. A victory garden for every mind and heart! Yes.
Ah, but it is so easy, so easy right there to feel overwhelmed. I don't want to, damnit! I can't. I won't. It won't matter. If I could just win the lottery.... ha ha.... shrug. Have you watched any good shows on Hulu lately?
Wait wait wait. What is it exactly that we need? How can we be so sure we don't have it?
More. More resource, more time, just a little more, just enough, just until, just more!
More. BP wanted more, too. What kinds of sacrifices do we make everyday in the name of needing more? Are we sure that more is the key?
We assume that with this more will come happiness (we wouldn't want it otherwise). I need more!
We tire of work. I'm burned out. But are we truly working? What is it to work? What is the American dream? Is it a folly, a delusion, a pastime?
Or is there something to "pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps" and just getting down to it; to forgetting about why and how and if and when, and just working because it is in that very action, that process, that we find identity, fulfillment, and peace.
The American dream has been defined in many ways: a house, two kids, a car, a picket fence, an iphone, whatever. But I believe it has to do with the freedom to work, and the inner freedom that comes with that. With the freedom to be responsible for one's own life, and to live out the fruits or follies of that life--not for wealth necessarily, but for self. For the experience of being alive.
Someone else said it better:
You have the right to work, but for the work's sake only.
You have no right to the fruits of work. Desire for the fruits of work must never be your motive in working. Never give way to laziness, either.
Perform every action with your heart fixed on the Supreme Lord. Renounce attachment to the fruits.
Be even tempered in success and failure; for it is this evenness of temper which is meant by yoga.
Work done with anxiety about results is far inferior to work done without such anxiety, in the calm of self-surrender. Seek refuge in the knowledge of Brahman. They who work selfishly for results are miserable.
~Bhagavad-Gita MahabharataThis isn't about having a job and working nine to five. Work is whatever is before you in your day. It is your life--let's live! Let's work.