Yesterday my father asked me why I work, when I don’t have to. The question seemed absurd to me. Why wouldn’t I work if I am able to? I am very fortunate in my work. I am an artist, a teacher, and I volunteer. Many of my jobs are either short hours, or very flexible. When I am feeling better I take on more volunteer work, when I have flare ups, I pull back.
I guess I can see where he is coming from. My brother and sister in law are both on disability, and I am every bit as ill as they are. They don’t need to go to work, and with money from the state, as well as help from my grandmother and father they even have a nicer car then what my family can afford. My sister in law spends her total life in bed with Fibromyalgia, my brother avoided surgery that he would have gotten paid for because it would mean he wouldn’t be able to collect the welfare and he would have to go back to work. He stays home 99% of the time and is constantly high. They both did all they could to avoid work before they got ill. I guess my problem with it is, I don’t see why someone would not want to work. Yes, sometimes work is challenging, but that goes for someone who is healthy too. And often work is just simply impossible, especially when you are in chronic pain. Sometimes the pain is so much that getting out of bed is impossible. But why would you stop trying to get out of bed? How many ill people wouldn’t absolutely love to be able to go into work if they could? I think most would choose to. I think I will always miss the marketing job I left 13 years ago.
Its true I don’t need the money from my jobs to exist. Many of my jobs don’t even pay. But I love to work. Lets say you cut out my paying jobs…teaching kids art and sugar arts. Well that would take away some of the most rewarding work I have ever done, something that not only gives myself purpose but that inspires others. If that income is gone then so is much of my disposable income, there goes my money for art supplies, my own workshops, and art shows. That will then slow down my own art business. But I guess that doesn’t matter because that is also work. Its a lot of work. I don’t just paint, I market, and get out there and sell. Being an artist is so much of who I am, it is much of my life path, so without working as an artist, there is no life path. Volunteer work is also work, so I should toss that too, why help others when I can hardly take care of myself? Would it be better if we lived in a world where no one lent a hand where it was needed? Would I feel healthier? There is a point where sometimes I take on too much, and need to let go, but taking away the volunteer work on top of the paying jobs, and the art work would make my life even less. It would leave plenty of time for me to take care of my family when I am feeling well though. Oh wait…anyone who has ever raised children well know that raising a family takes more work than just about anything else in the universe. But I could just let them raise themselves..plenty of parents do it. Who knows how they will turn out, who knows what if any relationship I will have with them if I just don’t “work” at raising them.
My point is without putting something out there in to the universe, how can we expect to have rewarding lives in return? Not everyone can work 8 hours a day, I know I can’t. But we all have something we can give, some “work” we can do. I may spend more time reading, on the internet and watching tv than many of my peers do, but that doesn’t mean I give up on life, it doesn’t mean I give up on participating. If you are having a bad day, or a bad week, and you can’t get out of bed, ask someone to bring you stationary, write an elderly aunt, or if you have two hours on energy today spend 15 of that cleaning your bathroom sink, and 10 emailing an organization out there that you want to encourage with words of praise. Maybe today your work is just simply resting because tomorrow you have a meeting you can’t miss.
Work is rewarding. Work might build relationships and do some good for the universe, but more than anything work makes use feel useful, and productive, and its such an intricate part of life.
I work because to me doing work of some sort is part of living, and I wan’t to live as full and as rewarding a life as possible, inspite of my health or lack of it.