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.

8 thoughts on “Work, Sleep, “You Time””

  1. I think your argument is inherently flawed due to basic preconceived notions; Exemplified by your statement “at least the kids with good parents”. Your math equation makes perfect sense to me. The notion that people should do what makes them happy, makes perfect sense to me. However saying and thinking that it is a situation that one cannot escape is the cornerstone issue that perpetuations the situation. There is a great quote by Daniel Quinn that I feel would help you in reworking this notion; “They always told us to think outside of the box. No one ever thought that maybe it was the box that needed rethinking.”

  2. Excellent critique and, a very apropos quote.

    You make a great point. I was hoping to confer enough ambivalance in my assertions to allow someone to tell me I’m wrong—if anything—for my own sanity.

    Yet, still–and this is kind of funny–a gorrilla actually told me the same thing not too long ago.

  3. With Man gone, is there hope for Gorilla?
    With Gorilla gone, is there hope for Man?

  4. none of this is helping me…i would like to know how much time i spend in my life sleeping,tiing my shoe,etc…

  5. You said that you are paying 61% of your time in working, in sleeping and not enough time for yourself. I have some bad news for you, your maths actually undercounted. Next time when you get a paycheck, look at the numbers and it will depress you even more. Let me assume you make less than $50,000 a year. below is your tax percent
    Federal taxes 20%
    Social Security taxes (you and your employer’s) 17%
    state taxes (assume California) 4%
    medicaid/care taxes 6%
    so, at least 47% of the money you earned during your work hour goes to the government and does not go to you.

    so, net net, you’ll be lucky to have 20% of the time left to yourself.

    also, the above math is assuming you are a low income earner. if you truly work hard, make sacrifice in life and talented and ended up earning more $, your share of money going to the government can be as high as 67%. so add in your 61% number………….

Comments are closed.