Showed the doco to KB reps last night and got the content signed off on. There is a bunch more to do on that project, but hopefully my role is more administrative from here on out. Getting the doco to this point, and finishing the draft of the nonfic and getting it to a point where it can be submitted to publishers (there is more to go on that project too, but again hopefully more administrative stuff and minor touch ups) has been the focus of, well, the past couple of years, since my brother died.
And I have definitely resisted taking on new projects and commitments since then. I didn’t start another band when This Charming Mystery folded last year. I have avoided becoming integral to any of the worthy community projects underway.
All in all, this opens up many questions (why am I in Wellington? What am I doing? Why?) which all sort of subsume into the question “what now?” Travel has been the default goal for a while now. Which leads to the need for some money to travel. Which likely leads to the question of paid work. Which is something that circumstance has allowed me to avoid for a long time.
For a long time now I have been engaged in projects that have eaten my life but I have felt were worthy. That sense of worth and usefulness is pretty fundamental. It is extremely difficult to conceive of doing anything without that – or some corresponding – sense of valuation to my actions. Acting in accordance with my values – following my bliss, in Joseph Campbell’s language – makes an incalculable contribution to my experience of life. (Maybe “acting consciously” is a good synonym.) Abandoning that seems untenable. Life just seems too short to be acting in a way which doesn’t accord with my fundamental beliefs about what is important; life is definitely too damn short to do stuff that is not worth doing. (My feeling about this is probably coloured by watching my brother going from healthy to degenerating and dying in a span of years.)
A lot of people seem to get that the system is fucked, but be less certain about what to be doing about it; embedded in the trade-off between work and the freedom money buys to do what they want, but unsure how to shift their work to something they find meaningful. And the irony is there is a tonne of really worthwhile stuff to do, that I would happily do, but it seems harder to get paid to do it than doing meaningless work in a capacity which perpetuates a broken unsustainable system I disagree with.
I am not the only one thinking along these lines. For instance, this random blog from some guy which captures a lot of the insight about what we do in working vs doing what we value:
The difference is more than merely the one between business class and flying coach. There’s a whole set of values, attitudes and behaviors which go along with working that simply do not flow quite as naturally from the state of “not” working. (I keep putting these things in quotes because I’ve worked my ass off while unemployed, literally two or three times as hard as I ever did as a salaryman.)
And here’s my calculus: not only am I personally almost infinitely better off (emotionally, physically, psychically) not working, but I feel, and believe the results will bear me out, as if I have contributed far more to the world I live in while not formally employed.
Ironic, isn’t it? Build a few compromised, painfully limited Web sites, and enjoy all the fruits our economy can bestow on you; structure your time in such a way that you can actually contribute useful things and, hey, baby, you’re on your own – no salary, no benefits, no protection. I suspect that I am far, far from the only one for whom the same calculus would apply.
My challenge, from here on in, is going to be to invent situations that allow me to do what I do best and still put food on the table. These situations, I am coming to believe, will hardly ever resemble “jobs” as we understand them, and I’ll know a certain measure of insecurity as a result, because our economy and even our society aren’t particularly well set up to account for edge cases like mine. And like anyone in similar circumstances, I’ll need all the help I can get.
As you might expect, I resonate pretty strongly with these comments. I also like the term “situations” above, which seems to capture a sense of the fluidity and out of the box quality underlying this sort of thinking.
Where are the jobs about building the world to come? How can anyone get paid to help a transformation of life occur when the money is generally all about preserving the status quo? How can I create/facilitate positive change in the world and/or individuals and get paid? How does one interact with a failing system on its own terms while bringing about a new way of being? These are questions I guess I am now asking more in earnest, among others (more about figuring out what I really want/need.) And figuring out the answers will likely be a process…