“How’s work going?” my father asks me during Christmas dinner.
I kind of shrug and tell him the truth: I like it well enough. My co-workers are fantastic. The pay is great, especially in comparison to my old jobs. It’s just that I amount of money or friendly colleagues will ever make the law interesting to me. It’s a slog almost every single day.
“Sometimes I have an existential crisis about it,” I say, “like ‘what am I doing with my life’?” A little dramatic, but sometimes there’s no other way to express yourself.
“You’re there to provide for your family,” my father said, “just focus on that.”
And this is true. But is it really enough?
Work is where a man spends the vast majority of his waking hours. Providing for a family is almost a compulsion–I certainly have nothing against stay-at-home-dads, and I was one for several months while I was unemployed–but I always knew I wanted to be the breadwinner. I had to.
And it’s not like we really have the opportunity, or need, to go out and hunt or fight or anything. So desk-jockeying is the closest thing many of us have to “providing.”
So when said desk-jockeying is neither intellectually stimulating or particularly difficult, it does call into question what one is doing with one’s life.
In other words, it’s clear proof that extrinsic rewards (pay) aren’t always enough. That intrinsic piece (meaning) is missing.
Yes, this is a “first-world problem.” But it’s something worth thinking about because much of the reality of modern civilization feels so damn unreal.
Our time on this earth is limited and starts ticking away from the second we are born. As we use this life to prepare for the next, or just try to get as much out of it until the end, most of us want to think that our existence actually mattered.
Yes, we matter to God (if that’s your thing), but there is also the here and now which can’t be ignored. There is still work to be done in life.
Providing for a family is one of the greatest things one can do. But does it have to be a slog?
No wonder many people have hobbies that border on the point of obsession: sports, hunting, video games, photography, painting, cars. In my case, these are music and writing.
Whenever we indulge in these fulfilling activities, we’re accused of having a “midlife crisis,” as though outside pursuits are unhealthy.
And look at this term: “Outside” pursuit. Almost as though what we do for a living is who we are, and everything else is just fluff.
Funny…I never introduce myself as “Alex the lawyer.” I don’t even use Esq. unless I’m sending official documents related to a case (“Esq.” is also exceedingly douchey.).
Now, this is the part of any good blog where I’m supposed to offer a lesson or an insight or something, a nice bulleted list of action items that YOU can use to start improving your life TODAY!
But as discussed previously on this blog, I’ve got nothing.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. The only “advice” or whatever I can offer is keep dreaming. Our minds are all we’ve got, really, and will always remain free. Never stop thinking big and pondering the impossible (I still dream of being a professional musician or composer someday…talk about a pipe dream) because this just may be the only thing keeping you sane in today’s unreal reality.
And so I’m still left with my basic question–“What is enough?” I’m muddling through along with the rest of humanity.
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