Tuesday, April 19, 2011

what is work?

all shall be illuminated...
sabin asked me this morning, "why don't you have a real work, mom?" and it really made me stop for a second and hold my breath. in her eyes, what constitutes a job is going to an office every day. what did i do to make that be her concept of what work is? she's growing up in a world where the concept of work is changing. work can be done online, from anywhere. your employer can be in another country or halfway across the world.  a lot more is being done on a freelance basis these days. so how do i explain that although i'm not going to an office on a daily basis, i am working? how to explain that today's work is a more ephemeral thing, with not much concrete to show for it at the end of the day? we're living in a so-called knowledge economy and very few of us actually MAKE things anymore in our daily work.

i think it's what attracts me to sewing and felting and crafting in general. i think we, as humans, WANT there to be something to show for what we've done at the end of the day. something other than an outbox full of emails, or another report. we want something in our hands that we can touch and see and show, as a physical object, to others. to leave a mark, for there to BE something there when we're finished. we want, in short, a less ephemeral existence (ironic, i know, as i'm putting these words out into the ether that is the internet).

i have this feeling that work is changing. and that it will be something completely different for sabin when she grows up. but i clearly have some way to go in preparing her for that. it will be interesting, because i'm not even sure myself what's next for me. i have these vague images of it and i'm working on making those more concrete, but i can't myself see where it will all end up.  so in the meantime, i leave words behind and i sew. and i hope that's enough.

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if you'd like to read some beautiful thoughts about what's next, go here.

and if you're pondering the really big questions in life: big cartel or etsy? go here.

or if you'd like to read about our new adventures in beekeeping, go here.

9 comments:

poet said...

Your observation about crafting and sewing is totally true! I recall an article that there was a study to prove it, or something - work that isn't physical and doesn't have a physical result doesn't satisfy us as much. It's also very true that work is still measured in office time, and it's one of the things that's making the combination of family and career harder - of course you can do at least part of your office work from home, and possibly better than if you were locked up in your cubicle all day, but if your boss doesn't notice your presence it will affect his judgment of your achievements... hopefully this is indeed changing!

celkalee said...

I just wrote a paragraph that could be a book, deleted it. major point, I agree, totally. as some sappy song said...follow your dreams. sometimes that cannot be a total immersion in that dream but hold on to your ideas and let them grow.

Jennifer said...

i really love your blog for so many reasons, but am inspired to leave a comment today because of your thoughts on work. i have an art/art history background and have somehow ended up working in an investment bank in a 10-12 hour job. how i would love a more free-form job which would allow me to spend more time with my baby!! anyway, i find it inspiring that you once had a job you weren't very excited by and now you are following your passion. i'm really curious to see how it all develops!

anyway, writing quickly (because i am at work), but also wanted to say how much i like your photographs. i used to have a passion for photography and your photos remind me of that passion? maybe it's a similarity in style/view of the world...

lastly (and because just found your blog and couldn't comment earlier), i love berlin too!

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Great thoughts on work. As a college professor, I deal mostly in ideas, and I recently realized how very satisfying it was to have taken a photo, processed it, matted it, framed it -- all myself. It was a huge sense of accomplishment, I think because it was tangible, as you say.

The Painting Queen said...

I had to giggle at this post because this subject has followed me all my life. Partly why I wrote the "On Being An Artist" tab on the top of my blog. Anyway in the days when I worked the cubicle and offices of life, I can say some people were working and some were not...haha! Location does not equal quality. Suits do not always equal real work. Work can be for profit, paying bills,spiritual growth or passion and following one's bliss. As in anything of life it's up to each of us to make our choices.

Good for you for explaining it so carefully to your daughter that the 'concept of what constitutes work' is changing at last in the world.

Meri said...

Isn't it fun to watch the answers unfold like some enormous paper puzzle?

Barbara said...

Mostly, I just want to say 'amen' to the whole post! My daughter once asked me why I didn't have a real career. I guess it's our job to show them all the different shapes 'career' can take. And also to ensure they all gain the respect they deserve.

Char said...

it will be interesting to see how the world changes in 10 years...by then i want to retire.

going into work everyday is a real drag for sure.

kathrynclark said...

A wonderful post and oh, so true! I find that my daughter accepts that I 'work' as an artist much more than adults do. At least here in the states when you tell people you're an artist, they kind of laugh at you like "get a real job". Very frustrating and I do hope this idea changes with people's shift in ideas around the term 'work'!