Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where today's sermon mulls the tricky topic of employment.
In the 20th century, many people had careers. They worked their whole lives in the same factory, office, school, firehouse, you name it. I don't see that happening anywhere anymore, except perhaps in the health care industry.
All of us are now in danger of being part of the next Reduction in Force, the next Revised Head Count. First they closed the factories, then they closed the computer-based service industries, then the computer rendered obsolete all sorts of newspapers and reference books (that was my career). Soon, I'm told, voice-activated software and robot-driven factories will put all the foreign workers out on the street.
I think about this because my husband, once again, stands at the precipice of RIF. As a first-year teacher, I hold only a tenuous grip on my job. Two springs from now, our daughter The Heir will enter the workforce.
In this century, we will have to re-think the whole notion of career. What faith, love, and energy we might have put into our workplaces will be -- and should be -- re-directed. Where should we direct it? Toward our dreams, our visions, and what we now call "hobbies." Why should we re-direct it? Because in this brave new world, we are "heads" and not "hearts."
EXHIBIT A: ANNE FOLLOWS HER HEART
Deep inside a jewelry box, preserved as sacred relics, sit five little pins that belonged to my grandfather. They are "perfect safety" awards from his workplace, the American Celanese Corporation. He earned one for his department every five years, like clockwork. When he retired after 45 years of service, the company put his name up on its entrance in big letters and gave him a gold watch. I never heard him utter a single complaint about Amcel, either when he worked there or after he retired.
My daughter The Heir shows many traits that remind me of Granddad. Alas, there exists no Amcel in which she could begin at the bottom, learn skills, and perfect machinery. My advice to her will be, "Get a roof over your head and then follow your dreams." Maybe I'll even tell her to forget about the roof. They leak after awhile.
"Job satisfaction" and "job security" are becoming oxymorons. If you're sure your dream is safe in your cubicle, you go. If not, blaze onward until the wee hours making music, making art, making other kinds of dreams come true. They can take your job away, but they can't take the you out of you.