Love and Work by Navina Anand

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” – Confucius. 

This saying is bandied about a lot in today’s world. But come on, let us be real. Even if you love your job and would not like to be in any other line of work, work is still work ! Who likes to go in on a Saturday morning because you had to finish up something urgently for Monday? Work is something that demands discipline , commitment to quality, and being on our best behaviour. Three things which we don’t want to do all the time. Five days a week is ok.

I think we over-romanticize this idea that work will  simply be pure fun just because we enjoy it. A lot of well-meaning parents also tell their children, follow your passion. But I  resonate with the idea that sometimes if you convert your passion into your livelihood, it’s going to take away some of that sheen. You might have a passion for the arts but let’s say that your next meal is going to depend on selling your next canvas, it can be a permanently uncomfortable state of being. Unless you are up to THAT challenge, you might want to hold on to that passion, as a great way to spend your weekends. 

My teenage daughter has a beautiful voice and loves to sing. When I asked her if she wanted to pursue music in college, she said she wanted music to be her hobby and not her profession. While many parents are villainized for forcing their kids to pursue vocations that pay one’s bills, it is the hard reality. And no romance is a cure for an empty stomach or a leaky roof or medical bills you cannot afford. 

There is a lot of villainizing of people who choose to be in a line of work just because it pays them well. Are they selling their soul? But no matter what we do, when there is a monetary compensation at the end of the line, we all HAVE to sell something. We sell our sweat, our brains, our creativity, our time, our freedom. Money needs to be bought.

These days, thanks to the affluence boom of the IT industry, people have been able to shore up a sizable nest egg for them to consider their options in middle age. Our middle-class parents who probably worked in government jobs and such just made ends meet. There was no question of considering alternatives at any point in time. That would be shirking one’s responsibility and the ones who quit their jobs to search their souls were considered irresponsible losers. But today, many people decide they want to retire early, pursue other options, do a start-up, etc.It is a natural progression in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Once your basic needs are met , your mind affords you the luxury to climb up to the next level.  Some others also decide that they want to continue to plug in the hours to keep up with the King-sized lifestyle that they have gotten accustomed to and don’t want to compromise. To each his own. 

At the end of the day, I think it becomes a question of self-worth. If you feel that your sense of worth is being eroded by your work- either by the nature of work , the quality of people that you spend time with or the alignment of the value system at the workplace with yours, then there is a serious problem on hand. Otherwise, there is no need to be pejorative about that job that is affording one the luxury to think these thoughts. Love and work… they can, but need not necessarily be the same thing. So if we want to travel the world, have some freedom and drink our wine at the end of a hard day’s work, we need to just do our job and not whine about it . It is ok that we are not a DaVinci, Bill Gates or Rowling. Somebody also has to paint that fence, write that code and fix that leak. 

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