I’m pretty hard on office jobs. I don’t think very highly of them, and that reflects in both my writing and my choice of career. Still, if an office job is something that can make a person happy and let them live a fulfilling life, then why not?
Except, that I wonder how much meaning there can truly be in a life like that.
Here’s what I believe. Every single one of us is going to die some day. Pretty much everyone tries to live forever, no one’s really got the hang of it yet. Paradoxically, its the fear of dying that holds us back.
We don’t take risks because we don’t want to live the rest of our lives with the consequences. So we make the safe choices. We choose the career that doesn’t stretch us too much. We pick the friends that share our views. We only go to the websites that reinforce our beliefs.
In the age of the internet, it has never been easier to trap ourselves in a bubble.
And that is the core of what I believe a nine to five cubicle job can be. A bubble, comfortable and routine, but insulated against the truer, more risky meanings of life.
Look at the top regrets of the dying. Compromise and procrastination are the saboteurs of meaning, yet they are the kings of the business world in the US. I’ll never be able to support myself as an artist or a musician, so I’ll get a desk job. I would love more time with my family, but hey, I gotta put food on the table. I would love to get out more, maybe go on vacation, but I gotta look good to the boss. A thousand little compromises that slowly drain the color out of life.
For some, work life is a coping skill; they manage the chaos of their home life with the routine of a job. It’s not the first time someone replaced a bad coping skill with a different, equally bad coping skill.
Even in the best case scenario; you work a job you enjoy with people you care about doing something you find fulfilling. You’re still stymied in growing as person, because you’re stuck in a routine. Humans can’t thrive in a bubble. We need to grow, to challenge ourselves, and to use our deaths not as something to be afraid of, but as the ticking clock to make the most of the time we have.
Here’s the litmus test I use to figure out whether or not something is meaningful. I keep in mind that someday, I’m going to die. If, on that day, the last thought through my head is about this decision I am making, will I be happy or sad? Look for the reasons under the of action, and see if they will stand the test of time.
I forget who said it, it may have been Scrubs, but the quote “life is a memory before dying” has always stuck with me. We won’t be around forever, and who knows what happens next. Don’t get stuck in bubble. Live a life worth remembering.