Monday, June 15, 2015

Do Not Do What You Hate

"An Ordinary Monday Morning"

It’s Monday - for many people, the most dreaded day of the entire week, five more days of work yet to go before the weekend.

In fact if some current research about work attitudes in this country are accurate, up to 70% of the people who get up today and make their way into work will “hate what they do.”  Many people are on the road to burnout as they start this new work-week, maybe that’s why Monday is such an odious day.

I suppose there are lots of reasons why people report that they “hate their jobs.” Many say that the work they do is “tedious and unrewarding.” Many people find themselves in jobs that are very demanding (often forcing them to take their work home with them when the day is done), and yet this demanding work is hardly appreciated and makes little or no impact on the bigger picture of life.

Many people just “grin and bear it,” they work for the sake of work, work to make money, work to put food on the table, work until the weekend when real life takes place.

My guess is that so many people find their work so unrewarding because they have “bought into” the popular myth that every one of us is always supposed to be doing big, world-changing things with their life, and if we aren’t doing this we are frittering away our valuable time. People graduate from school and they are told that now they are supposed to go out there with their big dreams and big plans and change the world; and then when they land a job (any kind of job) and go to work, it’s nowhere near as wonderful or grandiose as they imagined it might be.

In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus is quoted as telling his disciples:

Do not do what you hate.

Some may hear these words and imagine that Jesus is advising his followers to stop what they are doing if they hate what they are doing and go do something else. I actually think Jesus is saying: Stay with what you are doing and learn how to love it, stay in the moment and learn how to embrace it.

Because we may imagine that we should always be doing something big and bold with our lives, we may always be planning for that bigger project and that better job when we don’t find it where we presently are; but instead of looking for that bigger and the better, the more rewarding, the more significant things we might do, maybe the goal is to learn how to love what we are doing, to embrace whatever moment comes our way.

The more I think about it, it’s not only people who go to work on a Monday morning who may “hate their jobs.  Many people in all walks of life may have fallen into the trap of hating what they do because they have succumbed to the myth that we should always be doing grandiose, world- changing activities with whatever we do in our lives. And yet, everything we do is life-changing, and sometimes the small things change life way more than the big things.

When we are always engaged in looking for something more we so easily lose what is already staring us in the face: life in all its fullness.

I came across these few lines of verse written by Janice McLaughlin (a Maryknoll Nun). It seems to be a perfect poem for just another ordinary Monday morning:

Flapping, flapping, flapping
Not yet ready to fly.
Anchored by too much –
Doubts, fears, expectations.
The past is a chain
Holding me down.
The future is a vision
Not yet clear.
There is only today.
Today I will soar.

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