Job versus Work…

So what do you do ?  lt is one of the most common questions we ask when meeting someone new, when beginning a potential future relationship with another human being.  But what does it mean?  Oftentimes we are referring only to another’s job, their occupation by today’s understanding.  What do you do for the money you need to live?  How do you spend your working hours between 9AM and 5PM or whatever they may be?  What is your professional role in this complex system we call our society?  On a somewhat deeper level we are asking each other how we have invested our educational and developmental experiences.  Yet with the end state of arriving at a chosen career, a chosen profession, what, if anything, are we truly asking?  What bits of information are we searching for and what does this explain to us about our current level of consciousness? 

The questions we seldom ask are the ones which pierce and probe much deeper within us on a personal level and are oftentimes the ones that we ourselves remain uncomfortable answering even within the privacy of our own minds and hearts.  What are your true passions in this life?  What do you live for?  What future do you wish to build for your children and what is your role in that process?  What are your greatest dreams?  Your darkest fears?  And how do you take personal responsibility for both?  Questions like these reach much deeper than our formal roles in society.  Indeed they question the very nature of society itself, our true roles within it, and the lenses through which view our human reality.  They are questions pertaining to our work.

Within our human language, no matter how vast and refined it may be, we too often tend to confuse and interchange these two terms:  job and work.  Through our years living within the confines of this society, through our educational and professional systems, and through our societal interactions, we have been conditioned to view the two as equals, to equate our occupational roles with our identities.  We view ourselves as soldiers, doctors, lawyers, academics, business people, salesmen, public servants, and members of our given tribe.  And we blind ourselves to our deeper identities as human beings, as members of a much greater community, and as custodians for the world of our children.  We prefer that our conversations rest on the superficial because oftentimes that is all with which we are comfortable understanding about one another.  We are addicted to our societal illusions, bound by our cognitive walls, and enslaved by our own perceptions of dependence and helplessness.

But what can we really do with this great gift called life?  What is our true work, the direction of our life’s energy toward imagining and building our future?  What can we contribute to the greater experience and evolution of our human race and what individual talents do we have to help us along the way?  Who will walk the path with us?  What relationships will we forge and foster along the broken and often treacherous roads of our lives?  And how will we know when we are on the right track?

Unfortunately, I cannot offer solid answers to any of these questions for you.  The path of your life is yours alone to walk, discover, and experience.  My personal path has been quite different and undeniably unique from all others.  When people ask me “what do you do?” I, like most, often answer with the superficial.  I am a soldier.  I am an officer in the American Army.  I am in training for Civil Affairs.  And yet, on a deeper level, I am also probing them to see if they are ready and willing to go beyond the superficial, to explore some of the complex understandings I have found along the rough road of my life, and to walk a bit of this path with me if only for a brief period of our time.  On this level, I am constantly searching for people to work with.

Although my job, my profession, is that of a soldier, my work has always been decidedly different.  At my core, I am a human being, a citizen of planet Earth.  I am a self-motivated scholar and learner, a dedicated questioner of all sides of our reality from the lightest to the darkest.  I am a naturally hard worker, forever driving forward down the twisted path of my life as I seek the necessary solutions for building the world my children deserve.  And I am a born leader, willing and able to bear as much of this burden as I can stand yet always looking for a bit of assistance along the way.

A great part of my time, my experience, has been spent trying to reconcile my own cognitive dissonance between my work and my job.  While I will always need to earn a living as long as I am still entangled and connected with this human reality I cannot escape the inherent discrepancies between my two versions of reality.  This is often made even more complicated by the fact that most of the people in my life continue to confuse the two ideas of work and job.  They are still entangled with the ideals and illusions of personal careerism and building a life within the current system rather than perceiving a new one and effecting positive change.   Perhaps that has been, on some subconscious level, my deeper purpose for this piece of writing, this piece of work (this one has definitely been at least two years in the writing, sorry it still sucks).  In order to view the true scope of our work, we must begin to disconnect ourselves form the confines and walls of our society.  Yet through the process, we cannot lose our tether, our grounding to it.  As we work, we must continue to live.

As for the scope of my work, the extent of my dreams, and the reaches of my vision for the world of my children, I must admit that I am quite the imaginative thinker.  I see the possibility of finding truly sustainable and lasting solutions to our often quite superficial yet destructive human problems.  I dare to dream the impossible dream of the end of war.  I wish to live in true love and love alone for all my fellow human beings.  And I perceive my final gift to my children as a world of limitless potential, of endless possibilities.  The road to achieving these goals, to finishing this work will not be easy or restful by any means, and indeed I have no illusions to the contrary.  But then, I guess I have the rest of my life to dedicate to the process, so I might as well get on with it…

Ultimately, there are no real limits to our potential beyond those which we create ourselves.  If we can only find a way of moving beyond our superficial constraints of job and occupation, of our perceived role in society rather than our actual power to change it, we can do some truly great work in this life.  The challenge of finding your work and walking your path will be yours and yours alone.   I only hope that I may be of some assistance and maybe, someday, we might work together.  Bon travail.  In Love and In La’kesh.



8 JAN 2014, 2215(L), Raeford, NC, USA

About briangdonnelly

I'm pretty much a random traveler and free thinker. Right now I live and work with the Army in North Carolina. I grew up in Missouri but am from the northeast US and have traveled a lot with the Army and life in general so I can't say I really have a "home" except where I chose to catch a few hours or rack each day. Overall, life is pretty awesome and I'm looking forward to changing the world. Hit me up if you care... Peace, Brian
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4 Responses to Job versus Work…

  1. caesarbc says:

    Margaret Meade once said, ” I measure success in terms of contributions one makes on his or her fellow human beings.”

    • I agree. However, I also feel that we must begin to move beyond even this idea of personal success and start looking at success through the lens of that which we can accomplish together as a human species.

  2. Tom Buchanan says:

    Damn, this is two months in a row you’ve pulled a comment out of me…

    You answered an interesting question from the perspective of a wise man far along on the journey. There is a terrific TED talk by 13 year old Logan LaPlante about what he wants to be when he grows up. That’s a common question I ask of kids all the time, and it’s usually answered with “I don’t know,” or maybe “doctor,” businessman,” “teacher,” or some such something. Logan hits the question out of the park. What he wants to be when he grows up is “happy.” Everything else is just a means of getting there. He’s pretty sharp for a 13 year old.

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