You might be inclined to think that the chief way that the Total Work system remains afloat is by “sticks and circuses” alone. The sticks come in the forms of public education disciplining, massive student loan debt, wage slavery, and the fact of being coerced into taking a bullshit job. And the circuses are evident in the huge entertain industry (plus alcohol consumption) whose point is to “mellow Workers out” after long, overwhelming days at work. A more sophisticated version of a circus is McMindfulness.
But sticks and circuses are not the primary methods by which Total Work props itself up while sauntering forth.
The chief method calls for sequestering your enthusiasm. You don’t realize that you’re being ideologically captured through your enthusiasm for work.
Here’s a highly illustrative example: you come up with a new adjective for a kind of coaching. (You know what I mean by a “new kind of adjective”–e.g., “life coaching,” “executive coaching,” “mindfulness coaching,” “financial coaching,” and so on.) Next, you get really enthusiastic about this idea, so excited about it that you ask friends for feedback. Each of them says that it’s a really great business idea, and there’s definitely a market for it.
Your enthusiasm thus fed, it occupies you day and night. You sketch pictures, make Post It diagrams on your walls, ideate galore! You really HAVE SOMETHING HERE!
Oh, boy. While you believe that you’re the agent here, what’s actually true is that your enthusiasm has been sequestered by Total Work, and it is through your enthusiasm that you’re able to be ideologically captured. It’s not that you have an idea; it’s that Total Work has you. Excitement, feverishness, enthusiasm: how much simpler and more straightforward this is than sticks and circuses alone! By this means, you are hooked.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with starting a business–but why (ask yourself) is it all consuming? Why does the very thought give rise to beads of sweat on your brow or below your upper lip?
If you only cared about right livelihood in the Buddhist sense, that is, if you only cared about (a) having a decent means by which you’d have enough for you and your family and (b) doing the least harm and possibly helping some other sentient beings, then there is NO POSSIBLE WAY that this business idea would ensnare and bedazzle you as it most certainly does. Remember what Bertrand Russell once said, “One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.”
One’s work, in actuality, is not terribly important. Find out what truly is and be free. A true sign that you are free is that you can pick up a piece of work, stitch some things together for a bit, put it down at the drop of a hat, and summarily forget it.
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