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Work • Consumption & Need

Why Do We Work So Hard?

We work as we do because – of course – we need to; because nothing is cheap, because the bills are incessant; because of all the good and wise and sensible reasons that we’ve been highly aware of since mid adolescence at least. 

Konstantin Savitsky, Repairing the Railroad, 1874

But that is too neat and we know it deep down; we know that there is also – alongside this – something more complicated that we use the idea of necessity to avoid. 

— We work so hard because we are in terror of stillness.

— Because being scared of the world offers the most respectable distraction from a dread of our own minds.

— Because we have no idea how to let anyone know us outside of our achievements; because it seems inconceivable that we have any value beyond what we do.

— Because we were schooled early on in the art of being terrified – and are still too young to question our elders.

— Because we use the noise from without to drown the murmurs from within. 

— Because we can’t read poetry; for we despise anything that doesn’t have a charted purpose or goal, and that threatens to collide us with the unexpected.

— Because we don’t allow ourselves to be acquainted with the night.

— Because if we started with the questions, we have no idea where we might have to go – and what might need to be discarded.

— Because we are in flight from untenable sadness and regret.

— Because we haven’t got too many (or even any) real friends. 

— Because few people ever just held us quietly.

— Because we have no idea what to do with ourselves other than run. 

— Because we find peace so much harder than war. 

— Because the real work might lie elsewhere. 

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