It’s no mystery–I think a lot about things. Back in July, while on vacation, I found myself spending (too much) time contemplating work. I don’t recommend that, folks, when you’re on vacation but, hey, things happen, right? Anyone who knows me personally knows I struggle with one of my jobs–the office job. I have the office job simply as a way to pay my bills as I build the work that brings me joy–Yoga and Reiki and all sorts of other good stuff. Being on vacation gave me the time to really pay attention to what that means–I have this job simply to pay my bills. How does that feel in my body? How does that feel in my brain? What does it do to my energy levels? How does it impact my moods?
The answers came quite easily. Working simply for money feels really heavy and sluggish in my body. I find myself filled with tension so my neck and back hurt even though I’m only sitting at a desk. My stomach is clenched. My heart races. My brain feels bored and less than agile. My energy? I don’t have any. I drag myself out of bed. I drag myself to the office, through the office, home from the office, and through the remainder of my day until I can rest in bed again. My moods? I’m a bitch, and if I’m not being a bitch then I’m generally melancholy.
Compare this to the one hour a week when I teach Yoga. No matter how my day has been or what I’m going through at the time, my body feels light, agile, calm and spacious. My innards are relaxed. Muscle tension eases up. My brain lets go of all it obsesses with and focuses on the needs and safety of my students. My energy lifts as we move through the hour so that any exhaustion I may have felt before walking into class has disappeared; I feel energized and vital. And my moods? Joyous. Uplifted. Hopeful. Awestruck.
I’ve heard a lot about this “right work versus wrong work”. So much of it sounds like new age mumbo jumbo to me but I think I’m starting to get the underlying vibe of what people are saying. When we invest our time and energy in “wrong work”, work that, like my office job, saps us of our vital life force and leaves us feeling drained and unfulfilled, we’ve essentially entered into a deal I like to call the Poisonous Paycheque, clever cousin to the Deal with the Devil. This is how the scenario looks to me:
You need money to pay the bills. Someone comes along and says, “I have a job for you. I know you won’t like it, just as you know you won’t like it, but it will pay your bills. But here’s the deal: I have in my hands a bottle of poison. I will give you 5 dollars every time you consume a tiny granule of what’s in here. You won’t feel anything at first. You’ll feel just fine so you’ll take granule after granule, and I will give you 5 dollars each time. But the poison will be building up in your system as the money builds up in your bank account. Soon you’ll start feeling ‘under the weather’. You won’t have as much energy. You’ll feel tired all the time. Your stomach will ache a bit and will begin to bloat. Your mind will feel hazy and you won’t feel like socializing as much any more. In time your moods will become erratic and your body will start to fail. Eventually you will die…having paid all your bills on time. Here’s your first granule. Would you like these 5 bucks?”
How much of your life are you willing to sacrifice for the poisonous 5 bucks, or the poisonous relationship, or the poisonous lifestyle or diet or anything else that you know darn well isn’t good for you, or is doing you in?
How much are you willing to sacrifice?