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Sunday, April 16, 2006

 

Work

"What do you do for a living?," asked Sadie, the acupuncturist from Maryland, as we waited for the band to begin playing. We were both friends of the guitarist.

"I work at [insert name of company here]," I said. "I manage part of the Web site."

Pause.

"But I'm planning my escape."

She nodded politely. Conversation turned to astrological signs.

I haven't written much in this blog about my job, because I don't know how to write about it without being specific about where I work, and I don't want to get in trouble, like so many other bloggers. But if you haven't noticed, this blog has stagnated lately -- and it's because work is what's on my mind. "Work" in the fullest sense -- "work" as in "occupation," as in "my life's work," as in, "Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there is your vocation" (Aristotle). Or, to quote the book I'm currently reading:
"We find lifelong meaning in giving through the work we love."

So I've decided to write about my efforts, past and present, to find work I love. I consider this a lifelong process -- just like a relationship with someone you care about, your relationship with work needs attention if it is to remain vital.

Many people I know -- good friends, casual acquaintances, 20-somethings, 40-somethings -- struggle to varying degrees with how much their work should be an expression of their identity: whether 9-5 should be dedicated to what they love, or just a way to support their life outside of work; whether it's realistic to expect fulfillment from work; whether it's possible to make a living doing work you love.

I don't profess to have answers, but maybe by sharing my story, I can help other people find their path.

***

First, a quick look at where I've been, so you know who you're dealing with:
My relationship with my current job is complicated, and provides enough material for many other posts. For now, I'll just say -- I've come to realize that despite its merits (and there are many), it's time for me to break out on my own. To crystallize my vision of what I want to contribute to the world that is uniquely mine to give -- that intersection of my passion and the world's needs.

Stay tuned...

***

Amanda's library of books on finding meaningful work (listed in the order read):

Zen and the Art of Making a Living
The Artist's Way
The Artist's Way at Work (never finished)
What do You Want to Do With Your Life?
How to Find the Work You Love (reading now - about halfway through)

Also, this blog by Tranquil Space's Kimberly Wilson provides relevant inspiration (just tune out the stuff about being hip and fashionable - there's advice about living mindfully that relates to the search for meaningful work...):

Hip Tranquil Chick

Are there books or Web sites on this topic that you'd recommend? Let me know, and I'll add 'em to the list...

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