Friday, October 9, 2009

work hard, play hard.

When I told my friend JR that I was getting married and am moving to Europe, his first reaction was, "Why? Why are you giving up your life here? Europe does not have a soul. It is dead. Cold and dead."

I thought that he was merely being his cynical self. There is nothing amiss about living in Europe, I thought.

I haven't seen JR since the wedding day but there are times when I think about what he said. Like today. I was checking online for an all-inclusive trip to Prague. Fall break is just a week or two away, and I am actually looking forward to getting out of my little cave here.

It seems almost unfair to make a claim that life in this part of the world is very stressful. But it is. I, for one, wake up feeling sore, and retire to bed at night feeling more sore. True, I only work parttime but running a household and maintaining a social life definitely require a full time job. In fact, there are times when I wish there is an extra hour or two in a day so that I could finish all my tasks.

So to some degree, what JR said is true. This society is dead. Dead in the sense that so much importance is put on leisure that all we tend to do is work. Leisure and culture become interchangeable. You go to a museum not so much to see how ancient heritage is like and how it is preserved, but to sort of rediscover past as a living source of the present. This is why man tends to attach more significance to his leisure here. We work hard, we play hard. In other words, we live to work.

There is really nothing wrong about the word work. As I was telling my former classmate Meren, our job here as housewives also requires a kind of professional mobility, flexibility and coordination. The machines are there not to make our work load easy, but to facilitate any kind of work so that we could be more efficient workers. Of course, we try to avoid objectifying ourselves as machines... but in a way, we are!

That is why there is a tendency to forget the SELF. We wake up and go about our daily activities looking like orphans from Annie, and we retire at night smelling like sweaty stevedores. When we want to give time to our selves, we go to a spa or a health center. We think that pampering the body will help maintain balance in our lives.

Man is no longer concerned with understanding the internal problems... the self. He serves the society best when he remains faithful to his work. Work hard... play hard. That´s why it´s dead.

Life then is the constant oscillation between restropect and prospect. Man lives to work. He works so that he could also have leisure. Leisure opens up the horizon of possibilities. More possibilities, more work. More work means more trip to recreational and health centers. And in my case, more chance to see the world.

So yes, sometimes I wonder if it is life I treasure ..... or, work so that I could have a life.

15 comments:

Gerwin said...

I would love to trade my measly 15 vacation days (which is considered pretty good here) for your 21+ vacation days lol. It sounds like you are describing the US

Cherie said...

amo man ina an nakikita ko didi. makapapagal. bikulon ko kay basi may maurit sa akun. anyway, mayad man kay may means man kit amagtaga-bakasyon, lain pareho sa atun na an ordinaryo na tawo talagang matrabaho na lang, para lang makakaun.~~~dili ko gud nabubukasan an dashboard ko kaya nag gibo ako bag-o na blog. kitaa daw tabi kun makalaug ka - http://uncoveringaculture.blogspot.com

Aledys Ver said...

Good point, Droomvla. We work to achieve a standard of living that would allow to enjoy leisure activities, but that means more work... Mmm... I also notice that here in this part of Europe, people (and myself) take this leisure seeking too seriously, as if it was just an extension of their work.
If we moved further down south I suppose we'd see that the attitude towards work and leisure is different? More relaxed?
Good post!
Cheers!

Anita said...

Philosopher Alain de Botton writes a lot about the "rat race" at work and the need of leisure to keep yourself conditioned to... work more (so that you can travel further in better hotels and buy more expensive things for your life and home). I think in Holand there are many cultural aspects whithin the worshiping for work (Calvinism heritage, for instance) and the weather as well. You just cannot enjoy sun in your backyard after work all year long. But you can enjoy winter sports - and they are very expensive. What concerns the domestic work... I prefer to be in the job market getting a salary and share the housework with my husband. If you do all of it at home and doens't have a paid work people tend to consider that you have an easy life and is not contributing to society - which is of course a misconception.

thamarai said...

It is true, sometimes life just becomes monotonous...but Netherlands atleast has so many paid holidays...and the work time strictly is 9am - 5pm..In my country work times are just an eye wash..ppl tend to work much longer, unpaid for the extra hours...It is rewarding though if you love what you work on and if you are your own boss..:)..sigh, I wish...

buday said...

Sabi ngani, No one has ever declared on his deathbed that he wishes he had spent more time at the office, hehe.
But these days, we are told to maximize productivity all the time that even the so-called "leisure time" must be spent LEARNING something. I say, excuse me.

Basta, here's hoping you'll have more time to hilah-hilah wherever you are. :)

Droomvla said...

@Gerwin: Maybe, life in the US is more intense. I don't know. I don't live there. :) But here in the Netherlands, people are obsessed with work. When they are not working in the office, they are either scrubbing glass windows or fixing the house. Just check out Karwei or Gamma during school breaks. These do-it-yourself stores are more crowded during vacations than the usual working days.

Thanks for dropping by. :)

Droomvla said...

@Cherie: basta an aram ko, san saraday pa kami kun nagbabakasyon kami, wara kami gin hihimo kundi maghurohilata. Amo ina an bakasyon! HAHAHAHAHA Didi kun bakasyon, amo lang an time magcatch up sa mga chores na dili nagkakahirimo. Wara sin masugo pan-o. HAHAHAHA

Droomvla said...

@Aledys Ver: My point exactly --- taking leisure seeking too seriously. Sometimes when Hubby wants to go out of town during school breaks, I would beg off because it would only entail more work and stress for me. This is also why I would rather just have my coffee and paper, and walk in my pyjamas the ENTIRE WEEKEND! HAHAHAHAHA

Droomvla said...

@Anita: I share your sentiments about practically everything that you said here. Thanks! :)

Droomvla said...

@Thamarai: I am self-employed and I love my job; and I also am a financial partner and not just some housewife.

It's true that I can take off anytime I want although I don´t do that because I value work as well.

Ten years ago, at the height of my career, I sometimes worked 16-18 hours a day. It was fine. I was happy and contented. When I go home, there's food on the table; my bed well-made and my closet properly arranged. But here, I work just as hard and still.... there's more work to do. It never stops...!!! lol

Droomvla said...

@Buday: an dep't chair namon dati sa UP (also my boss), was a slave driver. Maski weekend gin papareport kami. An item ko, university instructor. But I was also a curator, music director, performer, stage manager, researcher, piano teacher, panelist kun recitals, nan kun enrolment, advisers nan kami pa nag e enlist. Our dep't was admired in the campus. Pero kami sa dep't, gin mumuruda mi si Dr. F. HAHAHAHHA

Ironically, maski irog sadto na kulang na lang butangan kami sin kadena sa liog, maogma kami sa dep't (kun wara siyempre si Dr. F). HAHAHAHAHA

An difference san system dd nan dida, dida we communicate with each other. We always make time to listen to someone maski palabaw sa ulo an trabaho. Didi, puro lang work-work-work. Di nagkakaraling-og an mga tawo. Kun may iharapot ka, ayoton ka. ANyways...

Jesusa said...

have fun on your fall vacation! don't forget to post pictures. inggit tuloy ako....

rwidiani said...

so true, marissa.
i get what you meant, especially after reading one of your response to the comments here. sometimes i feel guilty when i don't do any household things on my free day, but then i think, i want to be FREE on my FREE day. cleaning the house can wait, you don't die if your house is dirty :))

++retno

jeannette stgermain said...

When I saw your name "droomvla" I thought - that's an inventive Dutch word!!
The Dutch vla is one of the things I occasionally miss - they try to make it here in the US, but I can taste the difference! Same with chocolate milk (even though they've lived for a short time in Holl. my kids can taste the difference!)
So after living in the Los Angeles are for about 20 years, my view is that there are some good and bad things about Holl, Eur., as well as L.A.