Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The New Busy

I just noticed this line at the bottom of a friend's email:

"The New Busy think 9 to 5 is a cute idea. Combine multiple calendars with Hotmail. Get busy."

I remember working 9 to 5. In fact I remember working much longer hours but I was lucky to be employed at jobs where I could really use my gifts and skills. The times when I worked 9 to 5 or more were a challenge, though, as they left very little time for family and friends outside the workplace. My spiritual life had to be fit in as well and I was often out of touch with the spirit.

There is so much wrong with our culture/society but that we can be convinced that working more than 8 hours a day is a positive, life fullfilling goal contradicts everything I know as truth. It leaves no time for relationship, for caring for others and oneself, for just doing nothing.

The best work year I ever had was one where I worked as a pre-school teacher. Everyone in the center worked 6 hours a day, the administrator, the curriculum head (who also taught) and all the teachers. We worked hard giving our full attention to whatever we were doing. Six hours with young children can be exhausting but we worked cooperatively, making sure each of us was not overburdened. We all got paid the same hourly rate and had the same benefits.

I can remember many more moments of joy from that year with little children than I can any other work year. There was time to really attend to the relationships at work and after work. I had energy each morning and a different but still centered energy before and after work. Even though I was a single parent and I struggled to arrive at work on time, especially on Wednesday when seconds could mean getting stuck behind the garbage truck,I succeeded in keeping my cool most days. It was a blessed year.

Later some of my years doing full time work in an office gave me the same sense of balance. I was free to set my own hours and often worked a 60 or 70 hour week but I made that choice.

I have lived a life of privilege. Should I feel guilty that I would rather go without "certain financial security" and "great accompishment" in order to live a balanced life?

More than 9 to 5 it is what is expected and demanded in most full time jobs. Even earning a basic living demands long hours. What happened to the 8 hour day?

My parents worked hard to organize unions to fight for the 8 hour work day. Where are our priorities? How can we let "the bosses" convince us that "The New Busy" is a good thing?