I’m taking vacation next week. I’m not going anywhere, just hanging around the house, knocking out some errands that really require a free weekday and tackling a handful of projects that I just haven’t gotten to. Like any working stiff, I’m mostly looking forward to nine consecutive days away from the office, without email, meetings, deadlines, supervisors, office sniping and interruptions.
I sometimes ponder what life would be like if I didn’t have to have a job. Since I graduated from college I’ve had a few brief periods of unemployment – some forced, some voluntary. But I’ve never been able to opt out of the rat race for long: there are bills to pay, obligations to meet. I’m not a ladder climber and have never picked a profession for the money. There’s no spouse making six figures or a trust fund from a wealthy relative.
And so hi ho, hi ho, it’s in to work I go. On days when the rats seem to be winning, I try to remember that there are a lot of people out there who would kill to have my job – or any job, for that matter – but I don’t often succeed. I’ve been lucky – and good – professionally, but have never managed to find a career that lights my fire and pays for trips to Europe. I’ve always envied people who do. Yet I’ve had options, and opportunities.
Do you work to live or live to work? Count me in category No. 1, but it’s taken years to see myself as more than the sum of a lifetime of performance evaluations. I dream that someday I’ll discover a life raft – or build one myself – that will take me out of the world of Monday through Friday and send me sailing off to places I haven’t yet imagined. But that takes a burst of inspiration and courage that eludes me.
So I’ll rely on a little down time to lie back and recharge, maybe sleep in and get a massage. I’m hoping that stepping off the treadmill, even briefly, will change my perspective and turn those office walls into doors that open onto new paths, beckoning me to explore.