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.


Linda said...

Steve and I talk about this all the time. I think it really boils down to a question of what is the purpose of life? Were we created by God for a reason, as I believe or is there no point to it? If you believe in God, then you'll want to your life and decisions to reflect this. At the end of my life, I want to be able to say I tried to reflect God's love to others. Human nature being what it is, though, when I reflect on what I've done so far in my life it does seems rather paltry. It's much easier to be self-centered than selfless!

shiloh said...

Every day we all have choices and opportunities to be made that can help /benefit others and it doesn't have to be based on the type of career you happen to have. I believe it's the little things in life that you do for others that define how much of an impact you make on others and on life in general. Sure, you could get a job working in Africa at an Aid's center etc. but don't diminish the little things that can be done here and now at the job you already have. There's so many little, less glorified things that can be done every day. To me, this is what shapes a person. Not the title of their job. Holding the door for someone, caring for those who aren't feeling well with a card or phone call, helping a friend or family member with a job or just being a listening ear, being a polite and curteous driver....the list is endless. Unfortunately, as simple as these tiny guestures are, for me their even more harder to do than to work at a job that is "helping out" in some "bigger" way. You can go to work at this job every day and still not have the right attitude but feel you are "doing good". Doing the little things everyday forces you to look inward and change your personality and how you treat and deal with others. It's much harder than just punching a time card but something you can do at EVERY place of employment. The way I see it, you already do so many of the little things.....why look for something "bigger"??? :)

Anonymous said...

Brian, check out
This is a member of our church who started this restaurant in honor of his wife.

Anonymous said...

Glad you like the book! Here's that blog post I mentioned where the author talks about this:


LInda said...

Happy Birthday Brian!