Do Nothing?

Job frustration's become vociferous - cries of lack of creativity, or where there is creativity, of the low paycheck and/or work-induced tension. But the birds cry out, too, particularly the ravens on rainy mornings, and they carry no briefcase. The question of work, in my heart, is related to our ability to understand life, and its component of adventure.
In one of Tagore's essays, it is implied that it is easier and less meaningful to withdraw from the world than remain in it and exercise proper living. This could mean, for example, that instead of channeling all effort to doing a job really well, detachedly, one could devote some energy to building bridges between people in the work place: extra greetings, storytelling, and so on. That is creative: looking at what one has, and figuring out new was to connect with those resources.
Many people want heart-jobs where their passions lead their actions (though this is an illusion). But I would never recommend this path because not only are there no grooves to follow but there are problems down the way one could never have foreseen. So much is invested and it is no secret that not all endeavours succeed. There is a Jami verse that reads: whether your destiny is glory or disgrace, purify yourself of hatred and love of self. Success is tricky - some people struggle economically and circumstantially their whole lives: the success may be simply to have endured. But in today's climate, who wants to befriend the strugglers? The creative path - of adventure - is not for the faint of heart: even the brave will doubt.
That one can live doing only what they love is not even the path of the heart, it is the path of exaggeration. To illustrate: the plethora of emailing and attention-boosting tactics the heart-led jewelery maker must attend to. Poor jewelery maker, it is not only about making tokens of art that are transported on the person (a miracle already, unto itself, if the jewelry succeeds in such harmony).
Anything connected to the arts - literature, design, etc - is a labour of love. Just because there is so much "mecahnization" around us does not mean that we should expect it to run like clockwork (universities have a problem here). Labours of love, by definition of love, are unconditional and somewhat spontaneous gestures - spontaneous because one can't just declare one's love and be done with it. This is a problematic business model.


Many years ago, a businessman called Raj talked about related topics on Something Understood. His business model involved treating his boss and underlings the same - without supplication; being open to learning from everyone at all levels; behaving spontaneously with everyone and being confident that spontaneity wouldn't fail. He found this encouraged spontaneity in others.
It is a tall order to live spontaneously every day: perhaps the greatest challenge of love-labours. Keeping the faith on days when all arrows point at failure. But if people working in these fields - of what they love - don't believe in their jobs on the bad days, there is no justification of expecting society not to bow down to pure material success. And thus the mechanization is strengthened. This impinges on the fields meant to be of the heart. It is a vicious cycle.
One of my favourite books is called Errors in the Classroom. I bought it used, on the inside cover is a huge red stamp reading: DISCARD; another stamp, the name of a certain library. It is written by a City College professor whose job changed when a new program brought students to classrooms who were unprepared. The beauty of the book is the dedication it represents: teachers who were first "stunned" by the failing papers at the start of the program, questionning whether there was any hope for the students at all, shifted attitude and methodology and succeeded:
 "What I hope will emerge from this exploration into error is not a new way of sectioning off students' problems with writing but rather a readiness to look at these problems in a way that does not ignore the linguistic complexity of the task they face".
The key to the book is the labour of love. If we are in a position where we are making enough money to eat and live, we ought to take heart for the task ahead of us, which I think - if it is not yet clear - involves listening to - all - the people around us so we can better communicate with them.
"Ideas come out of the dialogue we sustain with others and with ourselves. Without these dialogues, thoughts run dry and judgement falters. Even the most accomplished writers, deep into the sense of their subjects doubt at moments the worth of what they are saying," the author writes.
There is a ubiquity of inferior textbooks on the market, not unforeseen by Shaughnessy, who writes of counter-classrooms "that abandon procedures and objectives under the illusion that freedom is something people simply fall into after authoritarian structures crumble".
There is a ubiquity of inferior dialogue about jobs and business sustainability of jobs of the heart on the internet. Rather than end by repeating myself (déformation professionnelle!), I'll explain the title. It is in reference to the Tao, the sage manages affairs without doing anything (2; 34; 37). And when one with highest excellence does not wrangle about his low position, no one finds fault with him. (8).


Photo in support of NYRB and for its Classics as Coffee Club.
Magazines behind book.

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