Sometimes we try to define something and figure out we don’t need to. Or we slap the closest label on it and move on. We don’t want to bother ourselves too much with the grays because the grays demand energy. Nevertheless, some situations need that we describe certain things.
I’m yet to fully understand the concept of a job in a traditional sense. I have known more than a few people who have had what we call dream jobs, and I guess there are a handful of people and organizations we would never say no to. I used to think I had one too. Until that opportunity came knocking at my door. And then I rejected it.
We don’t need to sit down and wonder what our job means to us unless we are leaning toward making a choice. It is easier, and perhaps more common than we realize, to become unwillingly comfortable with something. When it comes to our jobs, it is unavoidable because it helps in sustenance. So most of the time, we go along until it exemplifies itself as a choice.
In my fifth year of holding a professional job as a software engineer, if I had to define it, I would say it is something I do for a few hours, five days a week, to keep the finances flowing. So that I have a place to stay, food to eat, and tend to my whims. And then I do whatever I want to do every day.
When something holds a significant value in our lives - something that defines the turns in our journey - we spend most of our time labeling things. Returning to my career example, we may ask ourselves, “Is it something I voluntarily want to do because I love what I’m doing?“. Maybe listen to someone tell us that it won’t feel like a job if we love it. Many other notions have also influenced how we define ideal jobs as a society.
So if we can explain this crucial part of our “five-times-a-week”-day life, then we know how much of our time and energy needs to go there or if something is worth it. In that way, we can agree that definitions are helpful.
There are also things we are bound to and can’t just move on or ignore. In the context of jobs, it’s about money. Money has become such an essential tool that very few ways of living would free us from our habitual and inherited dependency. Moreover, not everyone will renounce the world and live like a hermit in some forest. It is one thing to romanticize about and a whole other endeavor to leave everything behind just like that.
I once remember reading about someone who lived in the woods for seven or more years. They also found someone during that time, married, and continued the lifestyle with their partner. I remember reading about how they made things out of animal hides and whatever they could find in the forest. So, it is not outside the realm of possibilities. However, they also sold the things they made or produced to earn money because there are still expenses - like an internet connection. Nevertheless, I think it is commendable, and more and more people are moving towards a similar lifestyle in recent years for a multitude of reasons.
On a side note, Ikigai by Héctor García is a book that has been wildly popular in recent time and talks about how you can find something you can enjoy doing. At the same time, you earn money, find your purpose, realize happiness, and all that good stuff. It puts forward a pretty logical system that I feel is, very obviously, a definition-heavy process. If you haven’t read the book, it is worth a shot.
Life has its share of things way more complicated and exciting than a mundane job. But what I have learned so far is defining things goes a long way toward building a life filled with love, happiness, and, most importantly, peace. It attempts to clear any uncertainty or fear of regret; and provides a foundation we can use to make a decision. Defining something doesn’t mean it instantly becomes all black and white. Not that it needs to be said, but it probably wouldn’t be wise to label something only because it looks gray, and we don’t want gray.
In those ways, our lives can be colorful and gray simultaneously. None of us would ever really be fond of the gray or of racking our brains, even wrecking it at times, trying to put it into black and white. So I believe the best we can do is define the grays and whites.