Monday, August 06, 2007

Why Work?

Some friends of mine recently gave me a book. It's called Zen and the Art of Making a Living. Yes, you might say, it's yet another product riding on the trendy "zen" name recognition, but so far it looks to be a very good book. It even mentions Zen more than just in the title of the book. It's a thick meaty book about career choices and finding personally meaningful work. I haven't yet gotten through the first chapter, but I found the following quote thought provoking:

"Work offers the individual the opportunity to share acts of love and beauty, to see himself reflected in the image of his work. By the work that a society chooses to do or not to do, it defines its values and shapes its future. Since work is what we do with most of our waking lives, we must, if we count life valuable, consider what we are working for."

That seems like a pretty good explanation of why I keep revisiting the thought of what I'm doing with my life and the question of should I be doing something different and more meaningful. It's a thought I imagine most people have from time to time. The big question for me is what to do about it. If I ignore the thought, I know it will eventually go away for a time - especially if I just surround myself with enough distractions. Then I can continue in my blissful self-obsorbed existence. But, it does seem to be a compelling thought and given enough time I'll start thinking again about choices I've made in my life, what, if anything, I've been doing that is actually meaningful or helpful to others in the long-term, and wonder why I still haven't made any serious change in what I'm doing. Sure, I donate money to charity, I volunteer some time at a soup kitchen every week, but couldn't I be doing more? Shouldn't I be doing more?

I dunno. It's something I'm trying to figure out. Me and a whole lot of other people, I suppose. Especially given that this Zen and the Art of Making a Living Book is in it's second "expanded and updated" edition.