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Moving the Rock

kawaiidaigakusei at 12:00AM, Jan. 25, 2016
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The years following my college graduation, the most frequent questions asked by my peers and older adults were: “What did you major in?” and “What do you do?” Initially, the questions would bother me because I could not give a direct answer to the second question without feeling inadequate. What did I do? I know I spent a lot of time contemplating.

In all honesty, what “we do” is just a fancy way of stating how we keep busy each day until we reach our inevitable death. I once heard a story about the ancient Inca society and how a leader would order a group of people to move a large rock from one side of the field to the other, and when the task was complete, would order the same group of people to move the same rock to its original location. This obvious use of labor and time could be seen as wasteful, but the daily task resulted in less uprisings and rebellions against the leadership because the Inca were kept busy and had no time for war. Now when I hear the question, “What do you do?” I simply translate it as, “What is your (version of an) Inca rock?”

I spent the last ten years observing how people around the world handle the concept of work. The old saying, Americans live to work and Europeans work to live is true for the most part. And then there are people in Asia who work every single day of the week with the most extreme version of work ethic that I have ever seen–imagine pulling a wooden wheelbarrow through three feet of water in the rain while wearing nothing but a t-shirt and sandals.

A few weeks back, I had a conversation with a former colleague of mine, and it surprised me when she asked, “Would you eventually want to get into a career path that uses the degree you studied in school?” The question bothered me because I know, as a fact, that I use my degree every single day of the week. For instance, whenever I read through a comic archive and write a review, I get to interact with talented artists. Drunk Duck is one of the most phenomenal groups that I have been a member because it caters to a global community of artists from around the world. I credit this site for my sanity and for allowing me to use my degree in a productive manner.


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Do you have any original art to contribute to our stock image database, announcements, community projects, ideas, news, or milestones to report? Please leave general comments below or send a PQ to kawaiidaigakusei. Email me at kawaiidaigakusei(at)gmail(dot)com.

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anonymous?

Z74 at 8:14PM, Jan. 29, 2016

My first career was as a mechanic (20 years) and when I did this I was determined to be the best one around. I worked my way from the lube rack through to electrical/ electronics diagnostics specialist , L1 master certified and became a shop owner for about 8 years . At this time my career defined me and at the end I was miserable and burned out. About three years ago I left the business and started over. I now work for a chemical company in the rail yard as a locomotive operator/ rail car loader.I am off on average fifteen days a month and have time to pursue other things like art and spending time with my family . My only regret is that I did not figure out what was really important in life sooner,so I could have stopped being a mechanic, and started being a person earlier.

kawaiidaigakusei at 8:37PM, Jan. 26, 2016

@Banes, this does not apply to all of Canada, but what I observed is that Canadians in Ontario spend the Spring, Summer, and Fall months working to stock up food and find shelter for the bitter cold, long winter.

KimLuster at 7:55AM, Jan. 26, 2016

It is weird how are work define us - it's like what we do has become what we are...!! And that's... messed up! It's like we're a commodity - a cog in the machine...! But it's not a modern thing - lots of Surnames (Cooper, Smith, Baker...) were born from what someone's occupation was back in the 'ol' days'! It's a mindset so hard to break out of too...

Banes at 12:23PM, Jan. 25, 2016

My pals and I sometimes talk about what our lives could have been like if we'd settled into jobs right after high school or college and stayed there. We generally agree that that is NOT the life we'd ever want. Thanks again for your insights, kawaii! Where do Canadians fit on the work to live/live to work spectrum in your opinion?

Niccea at 11:48AM, Jan. 25, 2016

I just say. "Remember Barney from 'How I Met Your Mother?' It is kinda like that." For those unfamiliar with the show, Barney had a job in an office, but nobody really knows what his job is. He doesn't even day what it is until the end of the last season.

PaulEberhardt at 11:20AM, Jan. 25, 2016

Oh, don't get me started on this! I pity those people who took off on a career immediately after school, never once looking at what else life has to offer. It must be like being locked in a dull little box, thinking it to be the whole world with nothing else outside. It's funny how these people try to rub my nose into the age at which I'm still trying to build up that teaching career of mine, or into how they think I'd have to define myself through my job, just because they do in theirs. In fact, that I prefer to keep an open mind and stay true to myself is the very reason why I'm really good at what I do in the classroom. Much better at any rate than that fellow student of mine who finishes university at the tender age of 23 with top marks, only to find that pupils don't take her seriously and that the subsequent crying fits only make it worse... The last laugh is on people like us, that's what I say!

Stellar at 10:18AM, Jan. 25, 2016

"..in a more civilized time.." I'm with you Bravo. I love learning, but the structure of classroom teaching often rubs me the wrong way. It didn't take a professor to teach me the propper use of tone, and it took trial and error and research to understand story elements such as the hero's journey (although I assume I self learn best because I can be critical of myself without putting myself down allowing an understanding of what's really going wrong; while others may not have that level of insight when they reflect on their own work). I get asked all the time if I'm going to college, and that bothers me more then being asked if I'm doing anything else with my life besides restaurant work. It's probly because to answer the former I have to begin with a negative, 'No, but I make comics;' while the latter answer is positive 'Yes, I make comics.' And after writing this out I realize that I don't get open ended questions about what I'm doing with my life often enough... XD

bravo1102 at 8:34AM, Jan. 25, 2016

By the way the piling and moving of rocks is also behind some monument building all over the ancient world. It also provided work in various prison systems.

bravo1102 at 7:58AM, Jan. 25, 2016

I have gotten to the point in my life where I refuse to be defined by what job I do to get a paycheck. That is not who I am. I work to live and how I live is what I do, not my paycheck. I have had a lot of self esteem and identity issues and it took a long time to get here, especially after realizing I will never get a graduate degree. Instead I find the reading list and do that. I'm a polymath so in a more civilized time I'd be a self educated man. Now with so much specialized education you can't get anywhere despite being able to do it.

usedbooks at 6:36AM, Jan. 25, 2016

It took me a long time to be employed after I got my masters degree. I hated the question because it made all of us uncomfortable as I said, "I live with my parents and look for work." It's not their fault. People want to define each other and careers used to be an easy way to do that and a good conversation starter. It's an awkward sore spot for many of my peers. Of course, now I can say, "I'm a park ranger." Which sounds cooler than it is, but also doesn't really define me. My passions involve writing, drawing, and breeding/raising animals (I love genetics). But it pays nothing, so I can't call myself a writer or a geneticist.

bravo1102 at 6:03AM, Jan. 25, 2016

The last time I was asked what do I do, I said I was an artist and creator. Don't pay anything but it is so satisfying. I went to a dinner where my wife works. It's all surgeons. Amazing how they try to impress the solitary layman at the table with all their technical talk. Though I was not about to burst their bubble by admitting I knew precisely what they were discussing.


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