Thursday, August 6, 2009

Back to Real Work

In January I reflected on real work and lately real work or perhaps more accurately lifework, has emerged again in my readings and reflections. For quite some time I’ve seen my lifework as being the time I spend traveling or at the Lake, away from what society might call work. Leisure, as I see it, is that of traditional work. The reason for this topsy tervy version of leisure and work has been sifting through my brain and draining into a glass like freshly squeezed orange juice, not clear but rich with meaning and interpretation.

So if work is leisure and leisure is work, how can that be? My version is not based on the definitions and meanings of each word, it is based on their purposes, our understanding of what they mean.

Josef Pieper says that ‘leisure is the whole point of life’ in his book Leisure, The Basis of Culture. Glass full!

Leisure then (my lifework as society would have it) is time I spend reflecting, sharing and playing for no other purpose, “an inner absence of preoccupation, a calm, an ability to let things go, to be quiet…Leisure is a form of that stillness that is the necessary preparation for accepting reality; only the person who is still can hear, and whoever is not still cannot hear… Leisure is the disposition of receptive understanding, of contemplative beholding, and immersion – in the real.” Pieper

Purposes: the point of traditional work is a time to refresh for leisure (my lifework), to rekindle spirit for leisure, not the other way around. Leisure is not a time to refresh for work, leisure is the point and work is included in the equation to enable meaningful leisure. This may seem very bourgeoisie, egocentric, and appalling to those of us who grew up with a strong work ethic, especially in a world where we have millions of starving people, communities torn by war and hatred, suffering beyond what we in Canada and the States can even imagine. However, a culture of connectedness, caring, giving and sharing is the leisure I embrace. It’s listening, talking with people, building relationships and understanding, learning about other ways of thinking and doing, as well as sharing experiences, ideas and skills. It’s giving time to nurturing the evolution of something with a focus not on building wealth, or more status, or gaining more of anything.

This is where my ‘real work’ philosophy has had the most profound change. I used to travel to get, now it’s to share and to give. My lifework time has been spent exploring the world, culture, nature as well as just being, with the goal of working myself out of a job. In my mind this is a sustainable way to continue initiatives, continue adaptations necessary in the workforce that creates space for continuous learning, creations and connectedness. My quest is to initiate and build on the conversation around deeper, more meaningful connections. This is my leisure, my lifework, the point.

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