Yes, I admit it.
After almost two years of riding my bike to work — a period covering three jobs and — obviously enough — three offices, including one in Tacloban — I sometimes feel like an entitled arrogant prick. [See: Biking in Tacloban]
Latest fun fact about me, myself, and I: Without intending to, I’ve managed to visit more emergency rooms for the past three months compared to most people.
[NOTICE: Please feel free to debunk my assertions because this is not expert opinion, just amateur observation, which is the result of thinking too much about several topics including the future, personal fulfillment, journalism, the Internet, and, you know, other shit like that. This piece was also brought about by reading and re-reading works by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and other journalists, whom Taleb, by the way, despises because their jobs make it difficult for them to distinguish between noise and signal. Also: I may be wrong about my assertions because of the Dunning-Kruger effect.] [See: John Cleese on the Dunning-Kruger effect]
Edgar (not his real name) knew he was too old to be scolded for bad behavior.
This was because the 70-year-old retired businessman, who also happened to smoke cheap menthol cigarettes, was considerate enough to respond to my attempts at small talk even though the social gesture—the sheer activity itself—was disallowed.
When does a job feel meaningful?
Whenever it allows us to generate delight or reduce suffering in others. Though we are often taught to think of ourselves as inherently selfish, the longing to act meaningfully in our work seems just as stubborn a part of our make-up as our appetite for status or money.
It is because we are meaning-focused animals rather than simply materialistic ones that we can reasonably contemplate surrendering security for a career helping to bring drinking water to rural Malawi or might quit a job in consumer goods for one in cardiac nursing, aware that when it comes to improving the human condition, a well-controlled defiibrillator has the edge over even the finest biscuit.
But we should wary of restricting the idea of meaningful work too tightly, of focusing only on the doctors, the nuns of Kolkata or the Old Masters.
There can be less exalted ways to contribute to the furtherance of the collective good and it seems that making a perfectly formed stripey chocolate circle which helps to fill an impatient stomach in the long hours between nine o’ clock and noon may deserve its own secure, if microscopic place in the pantheon of innovations designed to alleviate the burdens of existence.
— From The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton
(This is part of my #30dayblogging challenge and I already skipped yesterday. Challenge unmet. Oh well.)