Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Virtual Work

I guess it's a good thing that we are now on daylight savings time. If it wasn't for that I may not have seen any daylight yesterday. I did wonder why none of my atomic clocks automatically changed like they are supposed to do. I guess that was one small thing the genius's who moved daylight savings time ahead two weeks didn't think about. It was dark when I arrived at work yesterday and once I got to the floor I work on I left it only long enough to eat lunch at a thank you luncheon on the 2nd floor of my building. As I expected from taking two days off from work, I returned to hundreds of emails. I am beginning to think that maybe life wasn't so bad before computers when many people lived and worked on farms. I've never really been a farmer but I did do some farm work when I was studying at the monastery. I helped feed the cows, picked up bales of hay out in the fields, and occasionally mowed the grass while driving a tractor. I was at the peak of my physical abilities, my mind was clear, and I had never heard of stress. I also sometimes worked in the woods and was often surrounded by beauty. Sometimes I was out standing in my field. Sadly, this type of work is decreasing even for monks. Many of todays monks have a PC just like the one I am using now. More and more work is virtual and done in front of a monitor. It may have value but is rarely satisfying. I think many modern people are dissatisfied with their jobs because the results are so intangible. Some days it seems like all I see are numbers. They either go up or they go down. Sometimes up is good and other times it's bad. The same thing can be said about numbers that go down. Even when I deal with people I am usually talking about numbers. The numbers represent something but too often they are simply numbers. Along with the occasional farm work, while I was in the monastery I also helped build furniture, turn old dormitories into private rooms, and bake the occasional fruitcake. At the end of the day I could see what I had done. Even this past Sunday afternoon when I was hauling junk and unwanted items to the street in front of my house I felt some sense of satisfaction because I could see the results of my labor. In today's virtual world of work we are all challenged to find meaning in results that are usually not tangible or utilitarian.

1 comment:

Bryan said...

I happened to be browsing and found a book called "Holy Work" written by Dom Rembert Sorg. It deals with some of what you write about here. The subtitle is "The Benedictine Theology of Manual Labor."

I know there are days I long for such a thing as manual labor.