|analytical Q||May-Aug 2000||Sept-Dec 2000||Contact||Discussion|
Everyone knows about the "work ethic." Is that why many of us are stressed-out, debt-ridden, overworked, and exhausted? We feel guilty going to work late and leaving early, so we engage in all sorts of mindless activity to compensate. Like looking busy, pushing paper, sending memos, ...
Why believe in work, when work doesn't believe in you?
Sunday's (22 Oct) Observer Magazine (LIFE) introduced a new concept: "play ethic." Perhaps I've been practising this without knowing it. The buzz words are flexibility, creativity, and self-improvement. The concept of work changes.
I was telling a friend recently that my personal projects have become my official business, while my paid work has become a hobby. I turned it upside down a few years ago when I decided to redesign my life so as to fulfill my soul. I'm not 100% there yet. But my attitude has changed.
The play ethic says "I play, therefore I am." To quote the Observer, it's about having the confidence to be spontaneous, creative, and empathetic across every area of your life - in relationships, in the community, in your cultural life, as well as paid employment. It's about placing yourself, your passions and enthusiasms at the centre of your world.
I once said to myself, "If I work like the way I play, like the back of my hand, then I would do well." But the work ethic embedded in my upbringing was that it was involuntary, something I had to do, a disciplined, serious act. Work was a four-letter word. The more conscious I was of its seriousness, the less relaxed I was.
Sartre said "play is what you do when you feel at your most free and your most voluntary." I suppose I've reached this stage, for time flies when I'm playing. Oops! when I'm working, that is.
Examples of play ethic in action:
the management consultant who works one day a week so she can compose music, stroke her cat, and tend to her garden rest of the week
the part-time travel agent who paints when she's not working
the database programmer who works full-time for three months and then spends a month composing his techno tunes and travels the rest of the time