“Do what you love” disguises the fact that being able to choose a career primarily for personal reward is a privilege, a sign of socioeconomic class. Even if a self-employed graphic designer had parents who could pay for art school and co-sign a lease for a slick Brooklyn apartment, she can bestow DWYL as career advice upon those covetous of her success.
If we believe that working as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur or a museum publicist or a think-tank acolyte is essential to being true to ourselves, what do we believe about the inner lives and hopes of those who clean hotel rooms and stock shelves at big-box stores? The answer is: nothing.
Yeah, my inner life today is no richer than it was when I worked at Steak ‘n Shake.
I don’t think we should measure the value of a person’s professional life by whether they have esteemed or lucrative work. The best formulation of professional value I’ve come across is from Tim O’Reilly: “Do things that need doing.”
Stocking shelves? Needs doing. Serving food? Needs doing. Collecting garbage? Needs doing. Editing wikipedia pages? Needs doing. Figuring out how to maximize fees on checking accounts? Doesn’t need doing. Engaging trolls on the Internet? Doesn’t need doing. Volunteering at animal shelters? Needs doing.
Ultimately, for me at least, the measure of work’s value is not expressed best by money or love. The question is whether something that needs to be done is getting done.
i don't know who else to go to about this. i'm just incredibly conflicted about the whole damn woody allen thing. i don't know what to think. i don't know what to believe. i've read countless articles. i'm terrified someone will ask me about it. i know it's stupid and i shouldn't care. i know there are lots of way more important problems. i don't know. i just want it all to go away. i don't even really know what i'm asking you for here.
(just between you and me, if mia farrow had in fact coached her daughter to accuse woody allen of raping her, if mia farrow had gone completely insane and was manipulating her daughter to ruin the life of her ex-partner, I’m not sure I would blame her.
yes, woody allen is not soon-yi previn’s father in any conventional sense, but soon-yi previn is unequivocally mia farrow’s daughter. and if the guy I’d left my husband for and started a new family with began to take nude photos of my 16 year-old daughter, if I found those photos cold, with no warning, if that guy then started fucking my daughter and if that guy then said he wanted to leave me for my daughter, I’m not sure I would be any more normal than mia farrow.
if mia farrow has been irradiated by Phèdre-level family strain, it would not be difficult to identify with her distress.
but this is not a parsable situation. it’s the j.g. ballard wonder years. the fact that you’re having trouble with it means that you are a normal person who is being slowly gaslighted by our psychotic media, as it insists that this situation is simple when it is not.
if you think you understand this family, you are either fooling yourself or admitting that relationships of blood and love can be a great deal more complicated than is generally assumed or permitted.)
“This actually did happen to a real person, and the real person was me. I had gone to catch a train. This was April 1976, in Cambridge, U.K. I was a bit early for the train. I’d gotten the time of the train wrong.
I went to get myself a newspaper to do the crossword, and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. I went and sat at a table.
I want you to picture the scene. It’s very important that you get this very clear in your mind.
Here’s the table, newspaper, cup of coffee, packet of cookies. There’s a guy sitting opposite me, perfectly ordinary-looking guy wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase.
It didn’t look like he was going to do anything weird. What he did was this: he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of cookies, tore it open, took one out, and ate it.
Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing the British are very bad at dealing with. There’s nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies.
You know what would happen if this had been South Central Los Angeles. There would have very quickly been gunfire, helicopters coming in, CNN, you know… But in the end, I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do: I ignored it. And I stared at the newspaper, took a sip of coffee, tried to do a clue in the newspaper, couldn’t do anything, and thought, what am I going to do?
In the end I thought, nothing for it, I’ll just have to go for it, and I tried very hard not to notice the fact that the packet was already mysteriously opened. I took out a cookie for myself. I thought, that settled him. But it hadn’t because a moment or two later he did it again. He took another cookie.
Having not mentioned it the first time, it was somehow even harder to raise the subject the second time around. “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice …” I mean, it doesn’t really work.
We went through the whole packet like this. When I say the whole packet, I mean there were only about eight cookies, but it felt like a lifetime. He took one, I took one, he took one, I took one. Finally, when we got to the end, he stood up and walked away.
Well, we exchanged meaningful looks, then he walked away, and I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back. A moment or two later the train was coming in, so I tossed back the rest of my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and underneath the newspaper were my cookies.
The thing I like particularly about this story is the sensation that somewhere in England there has been wandering around for the last quarter-century a perfectly ordinary guy who’s had the same exact story, only he doesn’t have the punch line.”—Douglas Adams (via revolverwife)
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”
The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.
The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”