Seth Godin tells an interesting story in his book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. Godin is in Jamaica, it is 4 am, and he can’t sleep. So he goes down to the lobby of the hotel he is staying at to check email. A couple walks by that were on their way to their rooms. The woman whispers in a way which she really wants Godin to hear, “Isn’t that sad? That guy comes here on vacation and he’s stuck checking his e-mail. He can’t even enjoy his two weeks off.” Godin points out that we shouldn’t be pointing out how sad it is that someone is working while on holidays, but we should be asking instead “Isn’t it sad that we have a job where we spend two weeks avoiding the stuff we have to do fifty weeks a year?” Seth Godin has got a job that he loves, a job where he is so enthusiastic that he would rather check his email than do anything else when he can’t sleep in Jamaica at 4 am! Godin then challenges us. He says: “You don’t have enough time to be both unhappy and mediocre. It’s not just pointless, it’s painful. Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”
Wow what an inspiring quote! I agree that we should be setting up lives that we don’t want to escape from. I think I have that and I hope you have that too! Now I don’t think that Godin implies that we should never take a vacation or rest but it is not a big leap to go from the above quote to a type of thinking about work where work becomes everything and we don’t take time out.
If you love your work you are actually in a dangerous place because your love of work can consume you and when working is fun you can easily put in sixty plus hours a week for a while but then fatigue creeps in and then sets in and then takes a hold. This is what I have seen in many people in my church, my social groups and even in my family. When we love our work, when we have created a life that we “don’t need to escape from”, our health and wellbeing can come second (or third or twenty eighth) to our life. When we love our work, rest can become an optional extra and yet, like anything that we know is important but never feels urgent, it will become one day both urgent and important!