Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why don't we vacation more?

In the United States, it seems we are obsessed with work.

"What do you do?" is one of the most common social questions there is. Sometimes when a person asks me that, I want to say, "I read books, I salsa dance, I play tennis." Why does it matter what I "DO", and why does what I "DO" always have to mean WORK? I think our professions help people pigeon-hole us, figure us out. I'm proud that I'm in the news business, but will share that fact with a person when I want.

I remember one evening when I was just getting to know David we were sitting at a bar packed with insecure men. They joked and poked each other and turned to David.

"What do you do?" was the first question out of their mouths, or should I say it was more like a sneer.

"I ride the bus," he replied, not wanting to get involved in their I'm-better-than-you-because-what-I-do games.

Work slaps me in the face every day I ride the ferry. Everyone on here is packed together like sardines, heading to what they "DO" every day. People in our culture feel guilty taking a day off, don't know how to be bored, don't take their vacation. I think when you head overseas, you'll find people to be more relaxed. People in Europe don't have days more vacation than we do, they have WEEKS more, and know how to enjoy leisure time without feeling guilty.

The man who wrote the Last Lecture, Randy Pausch, once said that we focus too much on what's "Urgent, Not Important", than "Not Urgent, Important." He said we should spend more time ditching email for books, ditching business lunches for massages. We should spend more time on ourselves, making our lives rich, because what we "DO" and the money we make won't really matter in the long run.


McJumpguez said...

You know, I kind of thought about this when I had my mini breakdown on Sunday and called you. I realized that I don't have as much human interaction as I used to since my closest girlfriends are far away. Having spoken with you and Kelly on the phone that day made me realize that. So, as I told Kelly, expect a phone call here and there. No worries if you're busy, you'll call back when you get a chance. I think I just need to slow down and enjoy what's around me and make en effort to reach out to those who are far.

Dan-Eric Slocum said...

I agree with Randy Pausch on this. Work is highly over-rated.

I'm addicted to broadcasting-- but I would only want to do it part-time.

There's too much else in life to enjoy.

That being said, we live very frugally.

But I would rather have quality of life than THINGS. Our culture seems *so focused* on things!

- A - C - said...

I think you are in desperate need for a vacation in Italy....

Kristin said...

I just read the book, "Eat, Pray, Love" about a woman who lives in Italy for 3 months just to learn how to enjoy life again. Her trip sounded DIVINE with that food and wine!

Lisa said...

Let's ALL go to Italy! Kristin, you make an excellent point!

What do I do? I'm making soup. Yum.

Paula said...

Very well stated, and you are absolutely right, we use the "What do you do?" line to pigeonhole people as to whether they are "okay" or not to invite into your circle. I get very different reactions when I was young and was did "clerical work" to being older and being a "business owner", even though I am the same person inside. I go out of my way not to ask a person what they "do" right off......unless it's, "What do you do for fun?" Maybe they'll say "Work" LOL