Peter M Howard ::

On Work

22Nov2009 [myth]

In which one defines oneself through one’s work

So, What Do You Do?

Though I struggle to answer the question, I actually like being asked what I do. I've managed to find work that I enjoy, that I'm good at, that challenges me. I'm not just working 9-5 and trying to escape it, nor doing something just for the money. Sure, I don't want a job to define me, but work takes up so much of my life that it has to be meaningful — what I do is a pretty big part of who I am.


I've always said that if I became someone who woke up in the morning dreading the thought of work, I'd quit in an instant. I left that feeling behind at school (when I didn't have the option to leave) and it really isn't something I want back, ever.

I've a suspicion that that feeling — that work is something one should want to escape — is fostered by capitalism, which feeds us with fantasies of escape and freedom, if only we'd consume one more thing. Though of course, we have to keep working to be able to afford that one-more-thing, so we put our head down and keep at it in the vain hope of escape. It's absurd, but if we're stuck in that system, that work/consume feedback loop, we might as well make the most of it. Why spend most of your waking life doing something you hate just for some cheap thrills in the remaining few hours, or a couple of weeks off just to "let your hair down"?


Oh and drugs are no more an escape than anything else capitalism feeds us. It's no coincidence law enforcement only really gets tough on drugs when they're being used by the unproductive members of society — the poor, the dropouts. "High-class" drugs are tut-tutted for the sake of appearances, but you don't get the cops taking sniffer dogs into Maq Bank's Christmas party.[1]

On (Corporate) Work

Not to pick on one particular sector (okay, maybe just a little), but it's the people I meet doing "corporate" work that seem to have the biggest problem with the "what do you do" question — quick to add a disclaimer ("I'm only doing it until—") or addendum ("I'm really a—") in case you take them for a typical corporate type. Shame they're all saying the same thing or I might think them unique.

One corporate type tells me they enjoy what they're doing and I might just fall in love.[2]


  1. Can I say that? If not, know that "Maq Bank" bears no relationship to any real entity. ↩︎

  2. Shortly after writing this, one (non-corporate) girl told me she enjoyed what she did and my heart skipped a beat. ↩︎

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