The Windup Bird Chronicle
-Excerpt: May Kasahara Point of View 3
“Lately it’s really been bothering me…The way people work like this, everyday, from morning to night – it’s kind of W-e-i-r-d! Hasn’t it ever struck you as strange? I mean all I do is the work my bosses tell me to do, the way they tell me to do it. I don’t have to think at all. It’s like I just put my brain in a locker before I start work and pick it up on my way home…
… Out of a 24 hour day the amount of free time I have is… Nothing!”
How remarkable/unremarkable I find this quote from The Windup Bird Chronicle, one of my favorite books of all time. So many people have these mechanical jobs. What are they living for other than living?
Many do have rich outer lives. Maybe they have families? Or a hobby, like running marathons or uploading and streaming pirated movies?
But if you’re young and unconnected like poor May Kasahara, your job keeps you living and filling the artificial/real void.
What a strange life
It’s makes me reflect on so many things:
1) How lucky am I to be in a line of work where my bosses trust me to work independently to make things happen?
I value the freedom of being able to independently research what will be best for them.
2) How lucky am I to be in a line of with that is intellectually challenging?
Personal assistant work aside (confidentiality – do it right!), in my other lines of work, since I decided to leave an office and “go it my own”, I’m given challenges and left to figure out how to make it happen.
For example, in the past…
- Here’s our 6000 sq. ft. design office, made up of graphic/architecture/playground/event design businesses. Organize with the various offices to oversee a large scale move to another space across town, during the week of Thanksgiving. You have two months. Go!
3) Many people have less stimulating work
My friend’s dad spent 30 years working a Pennsylvania tollbooth collecting change from drivers. He made decent money (I think $30/hour in the late 90s), had a good pension, supported his family, lived in a nice house, rescued a few greyhounds, and managed to purchase them a large trampoline in their backyard, which made them seem wildly well-endowed to me. However, he can’t take back the time he spent robotically reaching out the window – hottest summer, coldest winter – dealing with perturbed, or maybe perpetually cheery, drivers, breathing in vehicle emissions. (This is a job that ought to be made obsolete because of the traffic patterns it induces, and the harm it puts in workers’ ways).
4) Waiting in a long line for a roller coaster, I like to play verbal games. My husband enjoys this as well, and so yesterday as we waited in the longest line ever for Kingda Ka he turned to ask us one by one, “What dream job, barring any training, would you like to have?”
He answered, “Parks or Nat Geo photo/videographer.”
My brother answered, “NFL.”
My brother’s gf answered, “Fashion Designer.”
I didn’t have to think hard or long:
“Lifestyle Concierge for Google or some other tech firm. I’d like to be the person who arranges ways to improve the lives of the workers – planning trips, events, games, etc.”
Then I added.. “I kind of have my dream job now,” as I thought about how wonderful it is to already so appreciate the career I have worked myself into.
Being a personal assistant, working for such nice and respectful employers that are doing interesting and important things, and who are committed to doing their best to raise their children well is awesome! The work is challenging, and I have learned countless things in just 6 months. I’m excited to get that much better at my job as in the years to come as I discover more about this city and how people live within it.
And on top of that, I have enough time to explore other interests outside of those work hours:
- Kickstarter Projects, like Equality, Education
- Our Bnb
- While mixing in some travel
So my advice is to work hard, follow your dreams (although I never thought this would be my dream job!), and be appreciative of a challenging career!