Now that I’m a responsible adult I’m no longer drinking to excess ever, and drinking at all rarely. It’s been a good transition into a new lifestyle for me. I’m more wealthy and a lot healthier for starters. The extra energy is of course getting channelled towards the ever-growing bundle of joy we have around here.
And no, this isn’t a baby blog.
What I’ve ben thinking about lately is Deborah’s series on work-life balance. It’s an interesting piece of thought underway, and I recommend you go and read it. This post isn’t a reply hers, but is, rather, prompted by it.
I’ve also spent the day caring for the youngster while Second Chef has been out hanging with friends, so I’m enjoying a beer to spoil myself. And it’s making me want to wax lyrical.
The thing that irks me about Western societies is this constant want to convert more and more time to relaxation. Like the fabled grasshopper, we demand to be able to relax and enjoy the sun. And personally I’m all for it. There’s nothing I like better that personal time away from the stresses of work. If my work was stressful that is. While I can be extremely busy, stress is a state of mind. No-one dies in my line of work. If a deadline isn’t reached, children won’t go hungry. I might not get that big bonus next year, but… who gives a stuff. It’s only money, right?
This also means I won’t work for people who are stress-causing, or who treat their employees or colleagues as vehicles to the aforementioned bonus.
However, I work pretty much non-stop all day, every day. When I’m not at paid employment I’m working at home with chores like cooking (and sometimes cleaning. I hate cleaning… I’d rather pay a maid, despite my frugal ways). I also pursue hobbies like blogging.
Then, at the end of the night, I take time to myself, and read for an hour or so (sometimes more if the day allows).
What’s important about this rest time though, is that it is something I can enjoy for two reasons.
The first is mechanisation. Lots of little jobs that used to have to be done by hand can now be done automatically, like dishwashing. And, lots of big jobs that used to be done by hand, like harvesting food, are also mechanised. This means we’ve changed the sort of work I do from harvesting, to “organising”.
The second is international commerce. Half of the stuff I can enjoy, and which makes my life easier, is produced by someone in a country somewhere who earns substantially less than I do. This means that I can, if I chose, work less hours than all those god gave, and still be comfortable.
And that’s what annoys me about the Western demand for more time off in relaxation. You and I can afford to be idle from time to time because a lot of our work has been sent to someone else, who we pay a pittance to work for us. While some of the time off we take is just salary-sacrifice, a lot of our relaxation is actually a form of exploitation. Furthermore, much of our time off is time we could be using productively, potentially for the benefit of everyone.
Now I’m not one to question this. It has delivered a great standard of living for us, after all. But, I’m acutely aware that my holiday time has a cost greater than what I outlay in petrol or dining out. But I do wonder about people who want to not make the most of their productive time and years, and often I arrive at laziness.