Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Work That Matters

       For some reason, lately I've been thinking that I want to read Thoreau's Walden again sometime soon (and not on an e-reader!). Maybe it's been triggered by a visit to Concord and the pond last summer. Or that I recently wore my Thoreau Sauntering Society t-shirt ("'Tis a great art to saunter"). Perhaps because at home we've talked about watching Dead Poets' Society. Could it be that I simply want to escape for a while?
       In what I'm sure is a case of the Baafer-Meinhof Phenomenon, recently I've also seen several references to one of the oft-quoted lines Walden: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." At the same time, I've also read several pieces in which the subject was asked a very common question: If you weren't ____, what would you be? It's interesting to juxtapose those two lines and ponder their possible relationship. Of course, the question is simply a way to know someone better. But it also suggests that many people are always dreaming of something else, perhaps of work more meaningful and fulfilling. I really don't know. But I sense it when I hear and read about people and their relationship to work in particular.
       It also reminds me how fortunate I am. Were I to be asked the question, my answer would be simple: I don't know. It's not lack of imagination, and certainly I experience moments of desperation. But I can't see myself as anything but a career educator. After all, what's better than doing work that matters?

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