September 23, 2003

By Michael Strickland

What Am I Doing at Work?

Today, a friend mentioned in an email that he was having one of those introspective, "What am I doing at work?" days. Who among us can't relate to such a sentiment? We spend much of our lives withering away in cubicles, pressing phones to our ears and talking nonsense in meetings. If we're lucky enough to have a window, we gaze longingly at the tree outside; if not, we stare at the nature scene on the wall calendar. We fantasize about exploring back roads or hiking to a waterfall while balancing budgets and writing marketing plans.

Though people like Henry David Thoreau and John Muir are proof that such "What am I doing at work?" days are nothing new, I think Thoreau would find "quiet desperation" a wholly inadequate characterization of our present-day lifestyles. I've written before about how few vacation days Americans take on average. The more "connected" this world becomes, the more "disconnected" we're becoming. The more modern conveniences we develop to make our lives "easier," the "harder" our lives in actuality become. With each passing day, the "small stuff" multiplies like bacteria, pushing away the "big stuff" until it's out of our reach.

Such lives of "ear-splitting desperation" serve as fodder for mid-life crises, gratuitous SUV purchases and year-long sabbaticals. More and more often, you hear about people giving up the rat race and grabbing the reins of their lives. They trade in their PDAs for PTAs, their keyboards for carabiners, their first-class flights for third-world missions. I'm no exception. Two years ago, barely a day went by when I didn't touch base with a client; now, barely a day goes by when I don't touch a dolphin.

Will we reach a crisis level sometime this century, when people start dropping out of society like the victims of an epidemic? Or will we finally take a lesson from most of the other civilized countries of the world, learn to take more vacation time and, for God's sake, turn off that cell phone every now and then? All work and no play doesn't just make John a dull boy, it makes him a freakin' basket case.


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year (almost), I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

Send a Comment

September Columns:

9/29: Open Season
9/28: Runaway Train
9/27: The Seven
9/25: Dreamscape
9/24: Survivor: Sacramento
9/23: What Am I Doing at Work?
9/21: San Diego Chokers
9/20: Farewell, Galileo
9/17: Anything Can Happen
9/16: Midnight Writing
9/15: Decline and Fall
9/14: Loyalty By Default
9/13: Debt Snowball
9/12: My Cup Runneth Over
9/11: Unforgettable Day
9/10: Fall Approaches
9/9: Total Recall
9/8: Legal Illegals
9/7: 116 More Days
Previous months in The Archive

Like what you've read?
Find more good reading on

In Association with

(and support future Daily Stricks!)