Am I a Giver or a Taker?
Yes, yes, my friends and loved ones are glad I’ve been around. I have spread my seed and done my part to see that the human race continues. I have performed some minor acts of kindness now and again. Blah, blah, blah. But have I lived a life, according to my most deeply held standards of “good,” that contributes to the world?
My chosen profession rests near the core of that discussion. I live--and quite well at that--because I receive a salary and benefits for doing a job. I also chose the career I have pursued for nearly 15 years, and in which I may remain for another 25 years or so. Am I giving to the world at least as much as I am receiving in monetary and other benefits? In my system of morality, it is a human being’s responsibility to give as much as possible and take as little as possible, especially for those who have received so much by the accident of birth. And I had more than I could ever have needed to start me off in the right direction.
Unfortunately, I often think I may be taking much more than I am giving. It feels as if my professional life has been running on autopilot. I do just what needs to be done, and not much more. Since I have some experience in this job, I can exert even less effort than I did when I first started. Also, there are relatively light expectations put on me by others, so that means I can cruise even easier.
Additionally, I wonder if my chosen profession is all it’s cracked up to be. I work in a helping profession for a large, national corporation. I came into my career with stereotypical optimism and ambition. Now, I curse every bit of bureaucratic crap that crosses my desk. I feel as if the hierarchy is a joke and many of my co-laborers are incompetent crackpots. (Of course, I am an angel with no need for reform.) My whole profession sometimes seems like a waste of everybody’s time.
Is anything I do worth anything at all?
All that is the bad news. The good news, which I’ll write about later, is that there are occasional glimpses of true meaning in what I do. I do have some spectacular colleagues who show me by their example that there can still be real integrity and excellence in this job. And, perhaps most important of all, I have more power to change myself and my work than I realize. Or perhaps I just never wanted to admit I have that power. Autopilot is easier than actually putting some effort into flying the damn plane.
Despite the negative tone of this blog entry, I am actually more positive now than when I began this blog. Then, I was sure I’d someday choose a new career path. Today, I think it is possible I’ll retire doing what I do now.