- Joseph Campbell,
Reflections on the Art of Living
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I have spent the past five days almost exclusively in the company of words. Hours flowed one into the other and I had little sense of time passing as I wrote and wrote and wrote and occasionally fixed dinner. A friend informed me I should never work again, but spend my days writing. I laughed.
This is my work.
* * *
And you, my fucked friend, what is your work? That is the crucial thing.
I have found employment as everything except a carney barker and each employment was a diversion, a channeling of my energy towards someone else's goal with the promise that I, too, would earn a measure of the reward, that security and plenty were to be found in the tracks and traces of other men's plans. Just get them over the hill and well, all would be well.
Perhaps it is so for others, but this has been a rolling disaster for me.
Why? Am I above working hard? Are certain types of work beneath me? No. A thousand times, no. It's not the work, it's the worker.
Any work is good work. All work can either be liberating or a prison - it depends on who approaches it. Can you live for the life in the work, or is it someone else's work you are living for? Don't take that to mean that working as part of team or a corporation is somehow wrong. It is not. Just be certain that is how you find the life in your work.
You feel me?
This is about how you live, what you live for. Paying bills comes second.
Every time I have taken on employment that has not corresponded with the impulse of my own wish I have foundered and failed (carney barker is next on that list). It is only when I follow the impulse of my own desire, when I put the pursuit of paying bills in service of that impulse that my life takes on its own rhythm and rhyme. The past five days are a proof of that premise.
Freedom arrives when you free yourself of the trial of living inauthentically and instead devote yourself to living in a accord with your essential self.
Maybe for you that means a corporate life, maybe you are fully yourself as a short order cook (I've done that one), maybe you are a farmer, or a ditch digger, or a plumber or anything that people do to earn their way in the world. All that matters, the crucial thing, is to suss this out before you die and learn that you had not lived.
* * *
What are you looking at me for? Hop to it.