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Work

Kids these days don’t want to work hard. I’ve heard this statement coming out of my own mouth lately, and I think I sound like my father and grandfather. The truth is no matter what generation they came from, kids don’t want to work, they want to play. Play is a child’s work. I think they actually may be on to something too. I’m sick and tired of work too. Not the work so much but the fact that it never goes away.

I remember my dad coming home from a long day at work. He would lay down for 20 minutes and then work some more. Only this work was not at the office. When he got home he would work on the work of building a family and a home. He cut the grass, paid bills, sat with us at the dinner table and held family meetings. Which we hated of course! The only time I ever remember him being interrupted by work was early one morning when the fire department called to tell him the lumberyard where he worked was on fire. Certainly, an emergency worth interrupting family work. Anything worth having requires work. Marriages take work, owning pets take work, even planning a trip takes work. I’m not opposed to hard work, I’m just tired of the pressure to work on things I’m not sure really matter.

I married a man much like my father. He works hard. He works long hours. He works on his family too, but I think it’s much harder because even though he tries, his other work comes right home with him in his back pocket. No one has to wait until morning to send a letter or make a call, they just send the note whenever a thought crosses their mind. When my husband sits at dinner to work on his family you can see the flash of a text or reminder on his phone. Even car trips where my dad once took the opportunity to tell us tales of his youth are now opportunities for my husband to have a conference call. Not that my kids mind. Instead of mindlessly looking out the window trying to drown out the stories, they have their heads mindlessly in their own phones oblivious to the work happening around them.

So, I’m sick of work. And I’m sick of a school that prepares us to do more work. As summer winds down, I’m dreading the tears and shouting and frustration. Why can’t school be a place where we learn to be in a community. Couldn’t it be a place where we work on friendships and relationships and learning what it takes to learn. There’s plenty of time for work. In fact, most of us even manage to work right through our vacations now. We’ve even turned summer vacation for kids into opportunities to do more work. Summer school, driver’s ed, sports camps all fill every waking moment of our summer days with work. And what do we do if we have a moment to spare? We work on building our social media platforms so everyone knows how much fun we are having. Or we have nothing to do but veg out in front of the TV because we haven’t done the work of building relationships and opportunities we are excited about.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing, the business I want to create and the problems I’m trying to solve. I think I’ve got it. I want to put work in its place. I want a world where we work on things that matter: family, friends, faith, personal growth. A place where we work on things that make things better and more sustainable, not strip us of resources and create waste we have no chance of ever cleaning up. And I’m not just talking tree hugger stuff here. I also mean the waste of human potential and energy which is getting sucked dry by the endless pursuit of more. I’m deciding to work to create, not consume. I’m deciding to work when I work and play when I play. I’m deciding to stop working and start being. I’m not sure what it will look like yet…I’m working on it!

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