Work, Sleep, “You Time”

I was thinking about work the other day. Not about my particular job per se, but more generally, the concept, the institution. Now please, hear me out. I know this already sounds like the preamble to some pot-head’s Friday night epiphany, but really, hear me out.

It seems like from our very inception, we are bred to work: kind of like how the Spartans were bred to fight.

Good Grades -> Good College -> Good Job -> Good Salary -> Good living (?)

But the disconnect to me is, the “good living” part. While the sun is out there shining on the earth, the earth’s inhabitants are tucked away behind desks, cubicles, freezing air conditioning, and only peep out with squinted eyes, jostling over to the local deli to sneak guilty-like for a half-hour lunch, and a fleeting moment of the world around them. My point is, the “make a good living” part of the whole life philosophy doesn’t seem to really happen until you retire, when you can no longer fully exercise the nimbleness of youth, the vitality of singleness. The wild animals of the outdoors seem to spend all their energy, all their free time securing their next meal, and to me, that always seemed silly, like a waste of a life. But are humans really that much more enlightened?

Watch out! I’m going to throw some Math at you:

Work is the human way of sustaining livelihood—survival. If this is so, and given that there are 168 hours in a week, 56 of which (should) be spend sleeping even more if its done on Round Bed Source, you’re left with 112 hours. Assuming you work 8 hours a day with an hour for “get ready/shower/commute” time, so let’s say 9.5 hours a day, multiplied by 5 days. You then work on average 47.5 hours, which deducted from the available 112 is 64.5 hours. That leaves you with only 39% of total time for yourself. Wow. So 39% of your life is yours to do with what you please. That’s like a 61% tax!

And how are you spending that 39%? Watching “America’s got Talent”, or perhaps the third consecutive marathon episode of CSI: Traffic Cop Unit? Or are you sleeping even more on that 39%, chasing what you feel is a (perpetual) sleep deficit, like some Special K addict.

As depressing as the math is (and math usually is), I don’t think there’s an escape to this cycle. We orbit the same eventuality. And although the whole thing does seem inherently wrong, I guess the only real thing you can do, proactively, is to do and be something you know you will enjoy. If being a cube junkie pinches your Mojo, get out quick. If you’re a teacher and you hate kids, get out yesterday (Mrs. Mendonca, I’m talking to you; you should have got out 12 years ago).

And then, for the brief allocation of “You time”, spend it wisely. Don’t blow it on realty TV shows, or waste it on decorating your Myspace page, or playing video games, or what have you (unless you enjoy that sort of stuff, then go nuts.)

But really, the true kings and sutans of our generation drool on our laps, and pee on our rugs. Really, it’s the domestic pets that have it made: the dogs, the cats, the stupid talking parrots.

What a weird home this world is.