Archive for the ‘Existential’ Category

Do you really want a job?

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Before you start looking for a job you should examine your motivations and goals. This may seem like an exercise in futility, but if you go through your whole life without thinking about what you’re doing you may eventually feel as if you are on a hamster wheel with no end in sight. The rat race, as it’s called, is what people with no goals compete in.

Motivations for getting a job

  • Material needs and desires
    1. You need food. If you don’t have money for food, you can’t buy food, and as a result you won’t be in possession of food to stuff in your face and chew on, swallow, and subsequently digest.
    2. You need a place to live. If you don’t have a job you won’t make enough money to pay rent or afford a mortgagee.
  • Philosophical reasons
    1. Why not? That’s just what you do. You go to school, you graduate, you find a job, and you go on with your life just like everybody else.
    2. As a person who has mooched off of the system your whole life, you now feel the need to pay your keep.

An anecdote

An old man and a young man are sitting on a bench at a bus stop. The old man has perfectly groomed hair, wears an expensive suit, and carries an ornate cane and a briefcase made of alligator skin. The young man hasn’t bathed or shaved in days, is still slightly intoxicated from the night before, and is listening to noise on his iPod.

After waiting for more than 20 minutes, the young man pulls his headphones off and demands the time from the old man. As the old man pulls back the cuff on his left wrist to reveal an expensive watch, the young man pulls out a pack of cigarettes. “9:27,” answers the old man as he studies the countenance of the young man. The young man grunts and lights his cigarette.

“What are you doing with your life?” the old man suddenly asks.

Taken aback, the young man becomes defensive and scowls, “What business is it of yours, old man?”

“I’m making it my business,” the old man immediately responds, with an unwavering and calm voice. He then strikes the young man’s shoulder with his walking stick. “Show some respect. Do you know who I am?” he queries.

As the young man recovers from the blow to his side, grasping his arm, he shrieks and begins to cry. The old man looks on with disgust. The bus arrives shortly afterward and the two seat themselves far apart from each other once they board the bus.

The following day the two men find themselves perched on the same bench. They ignore each other. For weeks the two men find themselves at the same bus stop, but never utter another word.

One day the two of them board the 9:30 AM bus to find that it is full, save two seats in the back. The young man, having jumped on the bus before the old man, seats himself next to the window in the rear of the bus and looks out the window. The old man, with but one choice, eventually finds his way to the back and seats himself next to the young man. They briefly look at each other, but the young man breaks his gaze and looks out the window for the next ten minutes.

“What are you doing with your life?” the old man again asks.

“What’s your problem, old man?” the young man immediately shoots back. “What are you doing riding the bus if your life is such a success? You’re as old as my grandfather and you can’t even afford a car.”

The old man’s eyes begin to twitch, and soon thereafter he begins to weep quietly but uncontrollably. His body heaves as he gasps for air between his quiet sobs.

When the bus arrives at the young man’s stop, he pushes the old man’s knees out of his way and hops off the bus. The old man looks out the window as the young man trudges down the sidewalk. The young man turns his head and glances as the bus at it accelerates away. The old man waves to the young man, who is quite taken aback. The young man can see that the old man’s face is stained with tears as he catches one fleeting glimpse.

The following day the young man arrives at the bus stop to find it empty.

The end

What does this anecdote mean? Why did the old man begin to weep? Why was the old man dressed well but riding the bus? Was he formerly wealthy only to have bad luck or tragedy befall his successful life?

I have no idea. That’s the whole point… the anecdote doesn’t mean anything. I just made it up and despite it taking up a few minutes of your time, it was ultimately without any meaning at all. You just took for granted that there was some important nugget of knowledge or something interesting to be gleaned.

This is the problem people make in their careers and in lives

Most people live their lives with aimless determination. They never take the time to examine existence or what their purpose is. They get a job and bring home a paycheck every couple weeks. They buy food and eventually a home, start a family and then suddenly find themselves aged and confused.

How can you avoid feeling like you’ve missed out on the opportunities of life?

  1. Have goals.  This seems like a no-brainer, but despite its simplicity it is very important.  If you just have some vague idea of success but you have not mapped out points along the way, you will never be successful.
  2. Audit yourself.  If you start to slack off or become lazy, and you are never any closer to achieving your goals.  You need to have set days each week, month, and year when you gauge your progress and adjust your goals.
  3. Work hard.  There’s no way around working hard.