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And it's a darn shame. How did the world get this way?

I'm a computer programmer. That means that I write cryptic bits of meticulous code that do wonderful and powerful things when they're done right, that's my job. It would be drudgery for some, but it's art and beauty to me.

When I started my current employment, the days flew by. I'd see that it was approaching 5:00 and wish I could put it off. I was enjoying it too much, and I was working toward a goal. Get to point A by the end of today, point B by the end of tomorrow, and the end of the project by the end of next month - and I often came in early or stayed late to make sure I got there. I was in my own world, and I was my own boss. The fact that I had a real boss who gave me assignments and occasionally asked how it was coming along mattered less than the motivation that came from within myself, from the beauty of what I could produce.

But the last several months, things have been different. I wasn't programming most of the day anymore. Some days, even strings of days, I wasn't programming at all. My work would change, almost randomly, from week to week, from day to day, or even sometimes from hour to hour. My inner motivation had to take a backseat to the needs of the moment, to the needs of others.

I began to think more about the paycheck than about the work I was doing. I began to think more about the work I wished I was doing than about either my immediate work or my paycheck. I began to wonder if I couldn't find another situation where my own motivation would rule my days, or short of that, where I could at least get more money for subordinating it. I began to watch the clock and the calendar, and pine for those two glorious days of freedom at the end of the week.

But today something wonderful happened. It's about 9 PM on Friday, and I just now, for the first time in many days, realized that I had those two days of freedom ahead of me. Wow! Is it Friday already?

Why? It took me a minute to think about it, and I discovered that it's because I'd spent almost all of the last two weeks programming again. And I was working on a single project. OK, actually two projects, because I finished one early this week, but they were projects of my own choosing. I wasn't just doing whatever I felt like it despite the wishes of my boss, but I was doing work that I had suggested. They were motivated from within, but also from the long-term goals of the department I'm in and the business as a whole. And my boss agreed with me.

Financial pressures still make me worry about the paycheck, but I don't worry about it while I'm at work anymore, at least not these last two weeks. I'm doing what I love, and those financial pressures are not a distraction in my day, but are seperate from it. There's no substitute for that kind of work. There's no reason for anyone to settle for less, at least not in the long term.

If you're only working for the weekend, you're working for the wrong reason. If one third of your life is spent longing for the third of it that you are not working or sleeping, you're not living, you're merely existing. There's nothing in life that's worth giving up living.


That's REAL easy to say, and a lot harder to do - and it's impractical and unrealistic to suggest otherwise. I got lucky enough to have such a perfect job for about three years - and did damn well at it if I do say so myself - then got cut in a mass layoff. I spent two more years trying to get back to the same sort of work without success. Now I've settled for a 9-to-5 for-the-weekend job that pays 50% more than the dream job did. It's a good enough tradeoff, and I'm happier having a job than looking for one.

I still keep an eye open for opportunities to get back into dreamland, but I know better than to think I have some sort of right to it.

Posted by Rollory at Wednesday, December 07, 2005 07:44 PM


I said nothing about any rights, nor implied that it was easy. I spoke only of value judgements and about seeking out those values when they are not immediately at hand.

I know that sometimes we have to do work we'd rather not do, in circumstances and conditions we'd rather not be in. I've done it, you've done it. Almost everyone who takes providing for themselves seriously has done it.

But what is important is keeping those values in mind, that "dream" job or even better that "dream" of independence, and working toward it, always trying to improve your situation.

I hope you find yours.

Posted by kylben at Wednesday, December 07, 2005 08:38 PM

I don't think it's impractical and unrealistic..maybe it makes someone angry to hear it because he knows he is in the same bad situation(e.g. working for weekends/money only), loosing his dreams. But that is just anger..

I really agree with the "values first", I like your blog:)

Posted by RC at Friday, December 16, 2005 11:34 PM

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