what is a job?

When I gave notice at my job last week, my boss told me something that goes like this: “I’m telling you this on a personal level (not a professional one). You should figure out what it is you want to do and stick with it.”

Stick. With. It.

Stick. Verb. be or remain fixed with its point embedded in (something). adhere or cling to a substance or surface. 

Hmm. Does this sound like freedom?

Am I meant to be or remain “fixed”? Will adhering or clinging to something help me develop on a personal level?

This is not a critique on the advice I received or whoever gave it to me. It is a normal piece of advice, given the mainstream values in our society. But I want to look a little closer at those values.

Permanence has become the survival mechanism of our species. I am tempted to believe it is a false tool of survival. It’s just a hunch. I bet Daniel Quinn would have something smart to say about this topic.

A concept I’d like to look at, including its origin (social construct or law of nature?) and its evolving meaning and importance to human beings: a job. 

I heard a man speaking on Krista Tippet’s radio show, On Being, about jobs. By definition a job is a place where we cannot show our whole beings. We have to fit certain norms and conventions when we work a job. We have to behave. (In a certain way.) We cannot and should not express all of our opinions, our doubts, our personal problems.

Life and work are separate.

Ha! Imagine that being true! As if one does not effect the other. As if life ends at work, and work ends at life. Maybe that would be true if life just consisted of sitting down in front of a TV screen. Wait, that’s what many of us do.

I see life as my work. And part of that is to become more fully expressive. Fear suppresses. Love expresses.

If a job is an “opportunity” to leave life at the doorstep (or cubicle entrance or what not), well maybe I don’t want a job. Life has already taught me to suppress parts of myself, for fear of rejection and failure. Why would I want something that teaches me to not express my whole self, when I find so much more freedom in being fully expressive?

If I must move on to continue to learn what I’d like to learn about how to be in the world, then should I really be determined to find something and stick with it?

I guess what I’m saying is, wouldn’t it be nice to have deep relationships to the people we work with…because in that, there is room for change and growth, and those are things I could stick with. Yes, it’s a paradox.

Is relationship–to ourselves, to others, to the world– our true lifework?

What is work?

What is a job?


4 thoughts on “what is a job?

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Gaby. I am inspired, intrigued, and feel so in awe of you and the amazing speed at which you are moving into yourself. Thank you for shining your light, and giving me permission to do the same.

    • Thank you Lily, I am equally inspired by you and the way you go through life. The article about jobs you shared with me, http://www.rushkoff.com/blog/2011/9/7/cnncom-are-jobs-obsolete.html is worth reading for anyone who wants a bit more history to the construct of jobs and workers.
      Two short clips from it that struck me:

      …”workers (an artificial construction, in my opinion, such as “slaves” “peasants” “aristocracy” “serfs” – that can be transcended as our relationship to work and consumption changes, and we no longer consider ourselves “consumers” or “workers” or “management”, which are all artifacts of the Industrial Age. You are not a worker; you are a person.)”


      “We start by accepting that food and shelter are basic human rights. The work we do — the value we create — is for the rest of what we want: the stuff that makes life fun, meaningful, and purposeful.”

      About the latter. Food and shelter as basic rights. But someone still has to do lots of work to make those things available. Or maybe we all have to do a part of the work of providing food and shelter, in addition to our other “work” that provides the additional meaningful parts of life.

  2. Pingback: Thoughts on work | Separated Cities

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