Work hard get far

| Work and play | 6 Comments

People in this country sure have to work hard. Really really hard. Getting up at five thirty or six in the morning to go to work, and then not coming home until past seven in the evening does not seem to be that unusual here. This must be tough for a country which values so very highly freedom of the individual in general and family life in particular. At least the Americans keep repeating this to themselves on and off (on the radio and television, through magazine ads, sometimes so often that it gives the impression that they still have to convince themselves this is true). How can one live a balanced life in America? I think this is really difficult, but possible for the strong at heart and the people with a true pioneer fighting spirit. This is somewhat ironic when you think about it, almost a kind of dilemma. I love the feeling of getting the job done and the community feeling behind achieving these actions with an inspired team spirit. However, I do not think I could live this way very long without getting pretty depressed. Really really depressed. Isn't there more to life then just working working and working? While folks in Europe are perhaps less determined to work until they drop, at least we can enjoy life more fully there, spend the much deserved time left over with the family and friends. Five or more weeks vacation a year is not uncommon in Europe. Coming home in time to have dinner with the family either. The better society is the one in which the proper balance between work and play is achieved, or at least striven towards. Each country has its own norms that should be respected and understood, so do not read this entry as a kind of critique on the America way of life. This is merely a view of mine and how I might (never) be able to fit back into this way of life. A man stuck between two cultures, one foot on the European Continent and the other foot still firmly attached to the Amercan ways.


I sometimes feel like I'm the only person who sees this. I won't say I *refuse* to work like that, but I *resist* it with all my might. Life to me isn't worth living if all I'm doing is working and sleeping. I have a friend for whom 12 hour days were the norm, and she wondered why her marriage was faultering. It's not healthy in general and it's specifically not good for a family. I think this may be one of the larger factors in why people get divorced so often these days. Most people seem to choose work over everything else anymore - and it's because of something else you've pointed out since being in America: the need for *more* everything. It's sad. And what's worse is, you aren't going to get ahead in any field unless you're willing to sacrifice things like your free time. What a paradox - we work harder and harder to have the freedom to get the big toys, but because we work so hard we never have time to play with them. It seems it's become more about simply acquiring the good stuff rather than *enjoying* the good stuff.

Well said Tom, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Interesting to hear this from a hard-core American, while I still see myself as a tempered and watered-down version, after all these years.

It's not worth it. We toil and toil, and for what. In the end, we will have said of ourselves "we sure worked a lot." But this society has engrained that you must be a hard worker if you spend a lot of hours working. Ya Right! I just had this conversation with a person at work. Quality of work, not Quantity. If I could get paid for the work I do, and be aloud to only work when I need to get that work done, I would be motivate to cut down to about 25 hours a week or so. I'm really good at what I do. But the expectation is that the stuff I do takes a week to do it.

...And at the end of our lives we won't be saying, "Gee, I wish I had spent more time working", but rather, "Why didn't I spend more time with my family?"

Ah yes, "The American Way"... pppphhhhhtttt! Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I can't wait for the day when I can be a stay at home mom/wife. Unfortunately, we're trained to think that we have to HAVE, and to have you have to WORK. Yet even then, most American's have more debt than they could ever dream to pay off in a lifetime so they must work more and more. The fortunate few will pull themselves out of the rat race and realize that "stuff" isn't what it's all about!

You know Emerald, I wouldn't mind being an old-fashioned stay at home dad/hubbie, but that's impossible. For one thing you have the financial obligations which have to be met, and I just earn much more than my wife. Secondly, society does not really accept this, as if I am demoting myself. Finally, it is so engrained in my mind to work and be the man, that I just would not feel good and probably also feel pretty darn guilty about it.

Well I don't know, folks. I have been working 70 and 80 hour weeks for over thirty years now. I haven't done it so I could have THINGS. I've done it so I could have self respect. Working hard and diligently allowed my wife to stay home and be a mother to our children. I admit that this seems outdated, but I compare my life to that of my grandparents. They worked dawn to dusk trying to scrape a living from the dry Colorado soil. They worked hard so my parents could have a better life. My parents worked hard so I could have a better life. Don't I owe the same to my children? Besides, where did the idea of a five day work week come from? Even God only took off one day a week.

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This personal weblog was started way back on July 21, 2001 which means that it is 7-21-2001 old.

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Graduated from Stanford 6-5-1979 ago.

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