I lay in bed last night, and as per usual, I was thinking about work. I had been watching a Noam Chomsky lecture on capitalism and the social order earlier in the evening. I wondered how each of us can go about creating work that matters, something that brings value to ourselves and others without the overbearing and often manipulative motivation to meet market need. I thought, how about…
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Welcome to the Sunday Letters archive where you can read all past issues of the weekly Sunday Letters publication. Sunday Letters goes out weekly to subscribers to my material. Each week I try to present to you a different perspective of the world in which we live and work in an effort to encourage you to perhaps think differently about yourself and develop the courage to follow your creative passions. Subscribe free to get Sunday Letters each week.
COVID-19 has brought the global economy to almost a complete standstill. Where I live, the authorities allow nobody to work, unless you’re part of the emergency response. Any commercial activity can be pretty much attributed to vital services and communications. We’re in a kind of no-man’s-land regarding work.
I once believed that there was someone out there with the answers — somebody somewhere who knew what I didn’t. All I needed to do to find them and extract their knowledge was to be persistent. Whatever the magic ingredient, I didn’t have it. Instead, it was out there, and I was going to find it. I didn’t find it.
Abraham H. Maslow, in his seminal paper A Theory of Human Motivation, said that man [human beings] is a perpetually wanting animal. There seems to be no denying this, and, in fact, it seems to be a fundamental basis for the growth of the species. In this mode of wanting, in our desire for more, to fill a psychological void, there is the prospect of achieving peak experience. Peak Experience is the seemingly seldom reached place where we may say that we have made it, if even for only a short period.
Is free will an illusion? Do we have free will to choose our future life experience, or are our lives predetermined in some way? We seem to have the free will to perform trivial tasks like cross the street or not, to buy a coffee here or over there, to pay for our ticket now or wait for a better deal. But, when it comes to significant life events, perhaps it’s not so cut and dry. Despite our best intentions, stuff happens. So, are we fooled by the illusion of free will?
Why do we work? What is the purpose of work apart from providing us with money to buy stuff we don’t need and pay bills? Is it possible to be happy and fulfilled in our daily work or are we destined to despise, yet endure its demands on our lives? Sure, we need money in our pockets to function within the societal system, but most of us it seems, are dissatisfied and disengaged
What is the meaning of life? Why am I here, and how can I achieve happiness? These questions, I believe, occupy the minds of people the world over. It seems that the more complex society becomes, the more information available, the more lost we are and the greater our striving for meaning. In our desperation for answers, we often turn to ill-suited and unreliable external sources.