Sunday, March 13, 2005

Alternate Views

Alternate Views
by AJ/Skald

I typically fill Hobopoet with a high concentration of anti-work rants. I rail against bosses. I rail against monotony. I rail against regimentation.

I quote other work-hating freedom fighters... such as the esteemed Hakim Bey. I blast the institution of work and I attack the individual jobs I have held. All of this is well and good. I believe most of what I write and feel all of it when I'm in the process of writing it.

But every now and then I try to take wise zen advice and "cease to cherish opinions". Few situations are all or nothing, so its important to see more than one side. If I was more careful with my language, perhaps I would write these rants in E-prime... do away with the verb "to be" and substitute perceptual verbs instead. For example, "work seems degrading"... or even more accurately, "I feel degraded at this job".

In that spirit, I will say that passionate, meaningful, engaging work IS POSSIBLE. Clearly it is possible. I have had such experiences myself. My clearest example was the part-time teaching job I held in Gainesville, Georgia... teaching English to immigrants. I LOVED that job. I had complete and total freedom in the classroom... could teach any way I wanted. There were no office hours, so I was never a prisoner. I showed up, taught my class, and left. There was very little bureaucracy or bullshit paperwork. The students were fantastic. They loved class. They were interesting, friendly, and fun. They taught me about their cultures. It was one of the few jobs that actually improved my mood.... I'd show up feeling tired and leave feeling energized.

That job fired my passion. Its one reason I decided to pursue a Masters in TESOL. I loved the students yet felt I was short-changing them. I didnt know what I was doing or why. I wanted to help them improve as quickly and effortlessly as possible but had no idea how to do so. Now I have a much better idea (see ).

So even I-- the King of job-hating hobopoets-- have had an ecstatic work experience. My gripe is that such experiences are so rare. The bulk of my jobs have been quite the opposite... as past posts indicate.

But there are other signs of hope. Matt Salleh is one. He is a science teacher in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and he loves what he does. He?s having a fantastic time... living in SE Asia, teaching what he loves (science & ecology & outdoor education). He has found his bliss.

Another example is Tom Peters, the business guru ( ). This guy oozes passion. Scan his blog and you can?t help but get fired up (even if you hate business, as I do). I was determined to hate his stuff yet I return again and again for inspiration, challenging thoughts, and a jolt of passion. His game is certainly not mine... not in a million years could I tolerate the corporate world. But Tom Peters has mojo and there's no denying it. He is following his bliss... and thats always inspiring.

Tom Asacker is another example. He too is a businessman, but a peculiar one. He is dedicated to changing businesses from "profit-driven" enterprises to "emotion-driven" enterprises. Imagine having "love", "passion", or "connection" as the primary goal of a business. Imagine if "heart" replaced "profit" as the driving force behind economics. You may say he's a dreamer, but.......

Then there is the homeless guy-- a man whose true calling is acting as a voice for homeless people. He has an extremely popular blog on homelessness ( ) where he gets the word out. The homeless guy is following his bliss too. He is the embodiment of Kerouac?s powerful principle, "No shame in the dignity of your own experience and knowledge".

And so there is hope. We must investigate these hopeful situations and be inspired by these rare individuals. Most of us must make an income.. however meager. This issue of economics is thus very important and hits to the heart of the hobopoet philosophy. As Gandhi (and Thoreau) noted, Economics is a religious/moral issue. How we feed and clothe ourselves is a deeply philosophical dilemma. How we make an income is a deeply spiritual question.

Are there ways to do these things that are blissful? Can we make an income AND retain our freedom? Can we find work that is so ecstatic that it ceases to be "work" at all?

Clearly we can. Such work may not be common. It may not be easy to find. It may take years to find our bliss. And what we find may not be considered normal...

But find it we can. It is possible.

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