To Do

April 15, 2010

I have just finished reading The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton. With the thought that it is work what makes and defines who we are, de Botton goes on an investigation of different work areas and places – ranging from Cargo Ship Spotting, Biscuit Manufacture, Rocket Science and many more. As a fan of documentaries and documentary writing I enjoyed reading about seemingly unimportant tasks, but which are all part of a smooth running society. De Bottons view of things, sometimes a bit sad and melancholic but more often very poetic and beautiful, is inspiring and seems to be a good way to look at life in all its detail.

Towards the end the author visits a plane cemetery in Mojave, California. Inspired by the scenario and the rotting evidence of human labour he states Death is hard to keep in mind when there is work to be done: it seems not so much taboo as unlikely.

This does sound a bit dark but is actually quite positive. Realising that whatever we do will probably not matter in a couple of decades, and how small we and our actions are, in the big scale of things, is deliberating. If one realises that work is in the end only a way to spend time until we die, which it essentially is, it takes a lot of pressure of finding the “right” thing to do, as long as it keeps you busy, your thoughts occupied and sometimes even makes you happy. And that’s it.

Now all you have to do is to decide whether you want to make biscuits, paint pictures or become a particle physicist.


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