On this day last year I had an urge to write. At this stage I had no thoughts about a blog but after a long Christmas break I had an intense desire to put fingers to ipad screen and start writing.
I just re-read it today and realised what it actually was. My dream starting to break through.
So I thought why not share it, in its original form, although, as my Mum would undoubtedly say, I do fanny on a bit…
2nd January 2014
A strange thing happened to us once the excesses of New Year wore off. We started to do household chores. No-one made us, in fact my other half was still on holiday and I had allowed myself my own freedom-from-guilt holiday, no-one paid us and we actually enjoyed doing it.
We could have spent the next few days watching box sets, finishing Christmas chocolate and generally loafing about but we’d both had enough of that. Without discussing it we both felt it was time to do stuff and get to work.
Now as a believer, follower, advocate of astrology I could say this is to do with the transits of planets and aspects to our natal chart with the Sun opposing Jupiter around this time. As a student of sociology I could say this is a natural process for those of us that ascribe to the convention of it being a new year. New year, new start, thinking about what we want to achieve rather than celebrating what we’ve done (or the just surviving the year itself), conditioning of social messages about returning to work, planning and of course the usual post festive detox programmes. As a pagan and dabbler in Wicca I could argue this represents the embodiment of what is happening inside Mother Earth; she is waking up again, nourishing the roots of plants and “giving birth to” the Sun/Son as it moves from its standstill (solstice) and increases its power and influence on the northern hemisphere.
Whatever the cause the effect is pretty much the same- we plan, we make resolutions and we get ready for “work”.
Unfortunately another convention we follow can frustrate our plans about what we intend to do, namely, our “jobs”. That is, the tasks we have agreed to carry out for another player in the marketplace in exchange for a wage, salary or fee. Usually but becoming less obviously in a set place and a set time in a set way where if we decided we wanted to do something else we would be sanctioned, sometimes, harshly. We agree that for 261/365 days of the year for 8/24ths of the day that someone else will control what we do, who we do it with and when we do it…for cash. And we call this work.
Not only that but we make sure that we teach our children that you must do this thing called work…for money. In fact if you want to do work where you don’t get paid we call this volunteering as if it is a completely separate act to working. “I don’t work, I volunteer”. In fact if you use the word “worker” on a volunteer agreement you might find yourself in some pretty legal hot water.
Astrology, sociology and paganism aside, another areas I’m interested in is Etymology. I like words. Unlike numbers they are subjective, sometimes formless and unpredictable and I like to know where these weird sounds came from. Etymology provides an inside into how humans originally created shared experiences through voicing concepts as words, how they operated as a society and what wisdom they wanted to pass down. So what were they trying to tell us about the nature of work?
Work, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary is derived from Old English “weorc, worc” as well as a number of northern European languages and it was used to describe a deed or an action. Sounds practical and efficient to describe a one off event or series of events but doesn’t seem indicate a lifetime pursuit.
Job, is a less pleasant version of work as it postulated that it comes from the word “gobbe” meaning lump or mass. And you have to wonder why our ancestors chose to differentiate the two.
Labour is no fun with origins rooted in “hardship”, “pain” and “fatigue” and the less emotive “exertion” and it (hopefully) doesn’t indicate a lifetime pursuit unless you believe suffering is key to success. Not sure what I make of a particular UK political party in light of this finding either.
Career is a funny one too. I’d love to know how this word was first used to describe the course of one’s working life. It comes from the latin carrus meaning chariot or carriage. This is a concept of a vehicle which you drive most likely quite fast possibly in a race if it came from the word chariot. This would make sense since career is also used today in a more pure sense as a verb to describe running at full speed “the car careered off the road”. But it doesn’t indicate anything to do with work, only how we have attributed it in the modern sense.
A word we use less and seems to mainly be the domain of charitable work, low paid passion work and the NVQ movement is “vocation”. The origin of this word is considered to be from the Latin verb vocare, to call therefore literally “a calling”. Now, we have a suitable concept. Here we have a word that could indicate a lifetime pursuit or desire to contribute to something.
Yes it’s a leading statement. I prefer the word vocation and I dislike the word job. One even sounds nicer than the other. Vocation has a pleasant cadence and flow where as job comes out like a dull thud. So yes I’d rather have a vocation than a job. Labour doesn’t bear thinking about and career, thanks to its original meaning, has no relevance for me. In fact it makes me feel like I have to do things quickly and in a race, which sounds exhausting. As for work I think of it as the word that describes what I need to do to embrace my vocation, my deeds and actions.
Unfortunately vocation wasn’t a word that was used to help me identify what “work” I wanted to do when I sought Careers (Chariots) advice at school. More the pity as it is something I have felt all my life. A small voice growing louder urging me to do what I loved to do and make a contribution to society. And now after a career working in HR I want to work on my vocation. I want to use the energy of the new year/return of the sun/opposition to Jupiter to start anew. To do it I most likely to have to do some jobs for cash as we are still labouring under the illusion that working for money is the most important thing in our society. As part of my vocation writing these vignettes and musings have come forward as deeds to be done to further my vision.
But as for my career, I’m retiring from the race.