Are you thinking about having it all? You know, a baby, a spouse, a multi million dollar golden parachute crowning your executive level career, yearly vacation time, healthy eating, exercise, sex, spirituality and philosophical musings about the amazement of existing?
That’s not even an exhaustive list.
You know the exhaustive list is infinite, don’t you?
Our society took that list and split it in two: work and life. There are three ways to work on these lists.
First, put work front and center. Has been tried, doesn’t really work. For average people, it looks nice but it tends to create the suburban 50’s hell of a life we’ve seen depicted in thousands of ways. For excelling people, it is a ticket to burnouts and excessive lifestyles, wolf of wall street style.
Second, put life front and center. Has been tried and it produces mediocre work. For average people it really is impossible, because average workforce doesn’t really have this choice. You know you don’t, stop lying to yourself. Since others have the money, and you must do stuff to get money, your averageness takes leverage away from you. For excelling people, life first makes small business mavericks. That’s all, and that is pretty mediocre as far as capitalism is concerned.
People who are neither average, nor excelling are too busy surviving for having either real work or a real life to balance.
Now, there is the third, and worst, if you ask me, option: both are important, life and work, so lets put both front and center. Well, how ‘bout that, does this sound like having your cake and eating it too? Sure does to me.
The problem, as I see it, is that when I think of merging work and life and paying equal amounts of attention to both at the same time, I envision this guy:
This monocycle juggler with a functioning chainsaw does not see himself, he only gets the action not the show. And that is the problem with work life balance.
You’re a spectacle for everyone else. The Aderall moms. The heart attack at forty pops. Everyone wonders how you can do it all, everyone is in awe, yet it is you who try so hard not to shit your pants whenever you must catch that freakin’ chainsaw.
Then in the middle of that juggle wanderlust comes knocking. What do you do? Shall you answer your calling or shall ye yield to the life-society complex?
My idea is that they work by sequential planning. Dunno, hasn’t really got me where I dreamed tho. But it is better than the other three I’ve tried. There are years for work and years for life. Months for work and months for life. Weeks for work and weeks for life. If you get to days, your days are counted. I have seen around me examples of people who have done it the sequential way intuitively or simply out of luck. They’re better off than I am mentally, physically and, yes, some financially.
The others? Hm. Most lie. Lie big time. My wife had an epiphany: that saying about the perfect woman being a lady in the parlor, cook in the kitchen, whore in the bedroom, well it doesn’t exist at the same time. You can be all of that, but not at the same time. And, from my personal observation, those who claim they are, they have no clue what either being a lady is, cooking is or sex is. Something is always missing. You’ll get dayjobs equated to careers, two maids and a nanny equated to being a Stepford wife, or giving head equated to some ultimate perverse kink.
There is also the male counterpart although for us men there is no saying because patriarchy has no sense of humour or self irony. With the exact same misguided bravado: blue shirted middle managers equated to CEO responsibility, driving kids to school equated to parenting or knowing Tinder slang equated to a verifiable track record of truly satisfied ladies. See patriarchy at work? I can’t even make the second joke good enough.
Anyway. People lie. Why? Because society rewards lies.
Any standard which is widely accepted will become the gist of most human lies, for the life of that standard. Just look at all those Instagram body shots, do they all share the same angle or what? Did those models who came out about perfect poses really did surprise anyone?
So is work life balance. A socially accepted standard. You gotta or you’re out.
But what happens when you catch the functioning chainsaw at the wrong end?