“Always perform your duty efficiently and without attachment to the results, because by doing work without attachment one attains the Supreme.” – Bhagavad Gita
It is a Monday morning. In the interest of full disclosure, I had scheduled this to be an off day so I have the day off from my job. Last week was a long week at work which is not news to anyone. Read on and I promise this post will get a bit more incisive. It had been since New Year’s Day that I had any extra time off. I don’t get sick. That blessing is even more appreciated in these times. I get up and go to work. It is what I do. It is what I did while helping to support four kids for over two decades. I did that before those days. That trend continued so far this year and I hadn’t needed a sick day. But I needed “a day.”
So Thursday when I received a text from my daughter saying she was coming home for the upcoming weekend, I was quite happy. She and I would now have be able to spend the weekend together without me going through the machinations ones goes through to get ready for the work week. One thing she and I did was explore the new and nearby Bottleworks district and go to a movie. Masks on the entire time, we saw ‘Nomandland”. I saw the film in many ways to be about work, working for a paycheck and what happens when the work you’ve known disappears for good.
Starting the work week
During Nomadland my mind went back to few minutes earlier that day when I was clearly not working. I was on the couch channel surfing and stopped at Remains of the Day. There was the lovely of Emma Thompson, a gifted thespian. Yet, I fancied her comedy talents from the series form way back called Alfresco. I stopped surfing just as Emma left the screen and waited for her to return. I have never read the book nor seen the entire movie so I had no idea when Emma would return to me. The next scenes involved an old servant at the estate where Emma worked who was close to getting sacked. Anthony Hopkins who was in charge of the estate, had reassigned the old servant to a different role and was explaining the specifics to him. The old servant had worked there 52 years. He got the purpose of the new tasks and before Anthony Hopkins had finished explaining everything. He then turned and pushed his cleaning cart off in the direction of the brass door handles he was tasked with shining. I sat up straight and thought, “Damn! That’s me.“
The remains of me
The physical act of pushing something to get to somewhere to do something closely resembles what I do for a living. It is not glamorous but it pays the bills. Like me, the old house servant went straight to work. Got to get to work. It is what he does. It is what I, and nearly all of us, do. Obviously, Remains was not written with me in mind. The scene itself may not be the guts of the film or book. This particular scene spoke to me. The movie was not made about me. But it and Nomadland, got me thinking about why I was working this morning, when I was not at work.
There are a lot of reasons and motivations why I work on the books and this blog morning after morning. I can’ deny that one powerful one is to create a revenue stream against the time when no else sees value in my work at work. I have experienced the work world as random, arbitrary, and unforgiving. This has not been the case everywhere but it has scarred me. I have been downsized, let go, laid off. Me, who gets up and goes to work because, like the old house servant, it is what I fucking do. So for some years now, I have decided to put my faith in myself and spend as much time as I can reasonably spend creating a revenue stream that only I can control. I can not downsize myself, I can’t eliminate myself from the org chart, I can’t find a younger me to replace myself. I can’t be remotely sure that any measurable amount of revenue will ever come from all this. However, I will gladly take that deal. Because you can bet your ass that sure as the next day dawns, and the one after that and all the ones I am around to experience, that I will, if I chose, go to work at it.
“May I help who’s next?”