Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday Morning Angst or ...?

Few disappointments in life compare to waking up Monday morning with the prospect that the escape of the past two days from one's labor, much as one may love one's work, is over.

In Western societies, at least, since the 3rd century Christian sabbatarianism has given us one day off, the day known as the Day of the Sun in ancient Egyptian astrology. Clergy rebaptized it as the day of the son (of the deity), Sunday, a day of worship.

Saturday, the original Sabbath, was added as a day of rest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in response to trade unions rather than religiosity. Thus was born the weekend.

Note the shift from the sabbatical impulse to the weekend of recreation. One was about setting a time for Someone Else, the other is about setting aside time to re-create, or remake, oneself.

In the so-called Protestant work ethic the insistence is on work as the means to "salvation" (Arbeit Macht Frei, work shall make you free, proclaimed a slogan on the gates of several nazi concentration camps). In a more Dionysian and perhaps more humane perspective on human activity, we accept that we become tired from ordered work, particularly that which mostly benefits someone else, and need to replenish ourselves with joy.

Let's ask ourselves the defining question: Do we live to work or do we work to live?

(If I work hard, is it because it fulfills me in some way or is it for a joyless reason? Are the goods and services I get as the fruits of labor really sources of joy to me or are they what I think I am expected to have? Do I own them or do they own me?)

Remember: no matter how many lives you are counting on based on what clergy tell you, you have only one life in the here and now.

Make your time here count for something. Take as many steps as you can beyond the place at which you first gained awareness of yourself and the world.

Even if you expect to find the proverbial 72 virgins in the afterlife, what makes you think that the first time done 72 times in the great thereafter is any better than the first time done here, just once, in the back seat of a Dodge? Besides, who's to say that the 72 virgins won't be surly ruler-wielding Catholic nuns ? (Imagine Allah saying, "Ha, ha, fooled ya, Al Qaeda!")

Seriously, folks, remember to laugh. That's a cosmic order!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A manic Monday as Prince once wrote and later on The Bangles sang.
Sunday was "categorized" by Prince as "my I don't have to run day".
That is what we usually do on a weekday, force ourselves to get up early, spend 10/12 at work, and finally do the things you did not do because you overdid yourself for about six hours. Meaning one should work 6 not 12 hours. That is why I believe when we gain freedom and are able to relax the pace during the weekend; we express resistance to align ourselves to the tough routine of a weekday. Even though in a lot of cases like my own, one can state enjoying one's work.