NOT WHAT BUT WHICH WORK WILL YOU DO? By APOLLO PAMPALLIS.
Did you know? There are only two kinds of work. Always were, are, and will ever be. Which kind do you do?
First, the nature of the work you do has nothing to do with its content.
Whether you are a garbage collector, or a president, of course, there is no comparison in terms of importance and usefulness here. (Without garbage collectors we would become filthy and sick, whereas without presidents we would be living quite happily. For a start there would be no one to declare wars, and nothing to usurp the freedom of the population to decide on important issues for themselves.)
The nature of work, or ‘a job’ is the description of what one does. The type or kind of work is the way you do it. There are two ways of getting things done.
We can see this in Greek, where the English word ‘work’ is seen to comprise two completely different types or kinds of activities. The type or how of your work has nothing to do with the ‘what’, but everything to do with the ‘how’ you do it. The one kind of work we have come to accept as ‘necessary’ to live is doulia. This is a forced, ‘necessary’ labour, to which one is enslaved. It is derived from the word doulos=slave.
The other is ergasia. This noun is derived from the noun ergon=creation. ‘Ergasia’ can be every bit as strenuous, difficult, dangerous as any ‘doulia’. However, one who is engaged in doulia is doing something begrudgingly, by force, to serve a particular, secular interest which is neither his own, nor belonging to the Whole/the world. In fact, by serving some other individual interest, both individual and the Whole lose out.
Schools are designed to churn out ‘worker’ slaves to perpetuate a certain style of living with values which support neither the individual nor the whole, as reflected in the increasing rate of physical and psychological illnesses, social, economic and environmental problems. We have been trained to unquestionably seek ‘doulia’ work as a way to live and win social approval and status. We live in an age where slavery is no longer legally legislated. This is not necessary, as the great majority of us commit ourselves to seeking ‘doulia’ and thus become slaves, living to slave, and slaving to live. By contrast, ergasia is what one chooses to do. It involves a vision, a love for doing it, whatever it takes, whether it is done individually or in a team, and whether it is voluntary or paid, professional or amateur.
In stark contrast to nature, where life spontaneously encourages all its participants to do their thing to the best of their ability, to the benefit of the Whole, and even in religion, where God (or the gods) give us the freedom to choose how to be and what to do at every moment. Each and every participant in nature plays an irreplaceable role, and each plays its own unique role unthinkingly, from stone to elephant, from the massive redwood to the tiniest, sweet smelling flower.
My father was a very academically astute, enterprising, imaginative man who wanted to become an architect, but felt obligated to work for his older brother in a foreign continent from the age of 14. When relieved of his ‘brother helping’ duties, he opened his own restaurant. He was an excellent restaurateur, but despite his abilities, his charm and his success, he never enjoyed what he did. It was a doulia, not an ergasia. In fact he would not even let his children help him as he was terrified lest they should be identified with this work, rather than take up a profession as was his dream. In contrast, I had friends who were top notch directors in huge companies, the epitomy of social success who dreamed of retiring to open up their own restaurant. I, by contrast to my father, no longer have any use for my post graduate qualifications in psychology and education, having followed my heart to an ergasia which is far more effective, both for me and the many more lives that I touch.
In the upmarket Athens suburb of Philothei were two garbage collectors. One was very sensitive to his perceived ‘low status job’ which he did begrudgingly, while the other saw it as an opportunity to be outdoors, keep fit and meet people. He did not worry about social status and felt that he ‘owned’ the sidewalks of Athen’s most upmarket suburb. He also would politely but firmly educate people about self respect and cleanliness when he saw them littering, regardless of what their social status was. Guess which one was sickly and had children with low self esteem and were ashamed of their father, and which one inherited a house in the selfsame neighbourhood from a rich and lonely widow, whose house husband had died young through ‘work pressure’.
This differentiation between the two types of ‘work,’ are by no means limited to the traditional ‘work arena’ of earning money. Guess who makes a better parent, or teacher? One who sees their parental/teaching role as a ‘responsibility’, or one who sees their role as an honour, a privilege and a unique opportunity to shape the future of the world through the joy of children? Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, you, as a personality only have ‘one life’. Honour yourself, follow your heart, and do what rings your bell, not what you ‘should/have to’ do, but what you choose. And whatever you do, do it first and foremost for yourself, even if you have to forego the material ‘luxuries’ of a ‘good (doulia) job’ and live in your car. Been there, done that and never looked back. It’s tough. But it’s more than worth it. I have faced my fears and broken the chains which kept me down as what I now see as a subhuman existence. Life has offered me so much more than what I would have ever had, (in every way) had I followed the well intended advice of all my friends and relatives to ‘go and get a job’. It’s not easy, but a conscious decision which is most certainly worth making.
Apollo Pampallis is a Life Mentor and can be contacted on [email protected]
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