There is a vast difference between jobs that are just that and an occupation that has real value . And money or social status has little to do with it. Done right, what many consider low-status jobs are valuable and critically important. Some are idiot enough to put down childcare. What could be more important than establishing a firm foundation for your child’s development?
The sparkle of gelt, gold, all that glitters, and wealth deceives many into thinking that their position in life is superior to that of, say, a milkman. Perspective is critical here. At some point, many of purported high status feel a void and eagerly seek a weekend experience working on a dairy farm – “reconnecting with the earth.” Or flock to a school to learn carving, boatbuilding, shamanism, or cooking skills. This is in response to a realization that status is not everything.
Students have told me that they envy the creative and pure nature of carving and that it has value beyond simple cash remuneration. I agree with them; each piece is subtly different, even from the same pattern. The wood is different; you’re in a different mood that day, and the light on the work varies.
This search for value in work is an old one. It predates me. But I ran into it first when I was a folksinger and discovered that the people who shoved dollars into my basket at second and third-tier coffeehouses envied my sofa-surfing, guitar-playing existence. They’d say, “If only I could afford to live like you.” To me, they might as well have been baying at the moon. Live like me? Afford to wonder where your next meal came from or whose living room you were in tonight? To them, my lifestyle was carefree and creative.
The simple truth is that work is not life. Suppose you allow your job description to define you. In that case, you are in enough trouble that a week-long immersive residential class in carving, boatbuilding, embroidery, or French cooking will not save you. If, on the other hand, you say, “Well, I work in arbitrage, but my true passion is making craft beer.” you’ve made a qualitative change in your life.
You may never become a professional brewmaster, but your aspirational life has improved, and you’ve made progress toward understanding that cash does not imply value or worth.