They May Take Our Hours, But They’ll Never Take Our Freedom

Better here than in a cubicle
Two oxen by Ana Cernivec

The prisoner wishes to say a word

Welcome to life in the twenty-first century, my fellow responsible adult, where you have to toil your way through hoping that, with the right mix of skills and fortune, you’ll earn enough pennies to afford the necessaries of life. Terrific, innit?

What’s that? You don’t like your job? Want some time for yourself? What for? Have you even considered that every second you waste on that life of yours is hurting the economy? Our economy! No, you wouldn’t dare. We’re all together on this so stop whining and get on with the plan.

That’s one of the favorite arguments of those utilizing you as a pawn to extract labor from. The rest—the sheep resigned to the grind—can’t even conceive what a good life is and will just abide. “That’s how it’s always been, what else can you do?”

What else? Well, you can start by facing reality and how you feel about it. I don’t pretend to announce a step-by-step plan in this short piece—I’m sure it wouldn’t apply to you anyway—but if it induces you to start sketching your own I shall be more than content.

And you, lucky bastard who already made a victorious exit, tag along and enjoy the well-deserved schadenfreude.

Published in life and work

Infinitely Scarce Buckets of Time

Hourglass by Aron Visuals

Your current balance is 692,040 hours and you have one life left

The year was 1866 and the American Civil War was just a few months in the past when a group of emigrants from Germany gathered in a tavern to talk about the needs of their new home—a broken but still nascent country—and to engage in horological discussion. They were watchmakers who shared a love for their craft and wanted to create an organization to represent them and their fellow men.

They originally called it the German Watchmakers Society, but sixty-four years later, as members from other nationalities joined, changed the name to the Horological Society of New York.

Why am I telling you of these mustachioed, hat-wearing gents? Well, I already shared some ideas on how to avoid wasting your days and hours, now I want to explore how people from different cultures perceive time.

Published in society and life

Catching Up With a Sinking Sun

Clock by Chuttersnap

Throw your life away, one miserable hour at a time

In Pink Floyd’s “Time”, Roger Waters writes, “Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time.” It’s a statement that hits you harder if you are over thirty but still relevant to everybody at every age.

Waters wasn’t just commenting on the apathy of the English society in the 1970s. He knew that all around the world, beyond England, people were “hanging on in quiet desperation” all the same. He was warning us about letting time slip before it’s too late, before it’s all gone.

Published in society and life

Feed Me Your Human Children

Graduates by Good Free Photos

The lure of traditional education and comfy jobs

When I was seventeen, I only cared about devouring 1950s science fiction books, strumming an old, out-of-tune guitar, and tinkering with computers. I hadn’t envisioned my great plan for life yet. Three decades later, I still haven’t. Life isn’t that simple.

Like most youngsters, I didn’t know better and just went with the flow, so I applied to a university (this was in Peru, where there’s no distinction between colleges and universities) to pursue a traditional education.

You may have gone through the same, or are about to, and in most cases it’s your safest bet: When you go to college, a university, or a trade school you expect to be told what to do and how to do it. If you care to ask, they might even explain why.

Institutions are supposed to give you structure and a set of rules to follow; provide you with the knowledge and skills to become a productive member of society (whatever that means); and hand you a diploma to demonstrate that you are equipped for the wild world.

That’s exactly what I was hoping for in the early days of September, 1990. Go ahead, you can chuckle now.

Published in society and learning

The Genius of Imperfection

Imperfect Beauty by Toni Verdú Carbó

On why it’s all right for Desmond to stay at home and do his pretty face

There’s a scene in Kill Bill: Volume 2 in which Budd’s boss says to a young, lady employee, “take a hit, be somebody, baby.” I love that scene.

Many a doubtful souls among us may find the idea of being somebody, whatever that means, enticing, so I’d like to start with the obvious public service announcement: a line of cocaine isn’t the way to go. That’s just Tarantino messing with the weaklings.

So which way then? Why, of course, be the best at whatever you do, right? That’s a fair assumption—be the smartest and be the fastest, because only by being perfect and creating perfection you’ll guarantee success. Right again, aren’t I? (And I expect you to be high-fiving the screen by now.)

The end? See you in the next article?

Hold it there.

I have my doubts about this perfection business; in fact, I…admire imperfection.

I’m not going to get into the topic of success today—I’ll get back to it in future pieces—but I’d like to talk about the relationship between perfection and the road to expertise. And to help me illustrate my point, ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles.

Published in productivity, learning and music