Reserva Ecológica de Buenos Aires

Work to live not to suffer

Back in 2007 when I started working in a hospital, my colleagues often bragged about working 12 hour days, as though that admission was going to impress me.

It had the opposite reaction. I remember feeling sorry for them.

These people, who make over $100,000 yearly, most of it taxed, were willing to sacrifice everything for a perceived image no one but them gave a damn about.

They all had broken marriages, couldn’t get a boyfriend or a girlfriend, coveted things I already had and were just plain moronic.

They spoke in this made up office jargon designed to make them appear competent and intelligent, and ran to Human Resources on anyone who left work a second before they were supposed to.

Once I was brought into my supervisor’s office. She admonished for leaving work on time. She leaned in and said, “This is not a 9 to 5 job.”

To which, I replied, because I have no fear, “My contract says it is.”

It was like this badge of honour for people like her if they sacrificed a weekend for some dumb report no one was ever going to read.

Honestly, if you were one of those people who gave 60 to 80 hours a week of your life to a dumb job like that, think about what you were working on. Does it have a real life impact today on people who need it?

I remember at the time making about $50K and thinking, I’m good with this. I am A.O.K. with this. If it means I have a life, that’s good with me.

I can’t tell you how blessed and pleased I am the way my life has turned out. I made all the right decisions. And they were all based on this foundation of putting in my contracted time, collecting my pay cheque and living my life how I wanted to.

But above all of that, I’m happy. I can truly say, that I’m happy. Sure not every day, sometimes I’m downright angry; but never depressed, never hopeless.

I don’t compare myself to anyone. I realized early that what my colleagues wanted out of life was foolish, stupid and immature.

They worked so many hours to put in face time and yet still, to this day, don’t own homes, or a cottage, have never travelled or lived abroad and won’t be able to retire at 55, let alone 60.

I have all these things, and I didn’t have to behave like an idiot to get them.

I recall thinking about how unhappy and thoughtless my former colleagues were. They bought into nothing, mindlessly.

Today I work for an organization that pays me a hell of a lot more, but who also agree with my philsophy: work however many hours you want to work, and if you get the job done, that’s all that matters.

Looking back at these grandiose claims of working 12 hour days, missing out on meeting someone to share their lives with, ignoring their children, partners, family lives, I think: what was it all for?

To watch your life fly by without any real achievements? All the days pretending to be busy, gossiping about other people, what a waste.

Life isn’t about sitting on your ass getting fat and staring at flourescent lights trying not to get caught writing missives on Facebook.

It’s about enjoying the little things, the simple pleasures.

I often find myself smiling as I’m walking alone down a street.

About five years ago, I caught a woman with a pram smiling back at me, and she said, “you look like you have a good life.” I replied with a chuckle, “thanks, you too!”

I didn’t know it at the time, but she was right.

Thank God I always had the courage to live my life how I wanted to.

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