Is Work You replacing Real You?

Last week I lamented what we miss when we work remotely and don’t get the chance to work together. The journal First Things approached it from the opposite perspective: How hard it is to prevent “work you” from taking over “personal you.”

In a review of the Apple TV+ series Severance, the author states a truth:

Severing our work lives not just from our personal lives but from who we really are is becoming more and more difficult to do. The more our careers take over our lives, the less we are able to live as members of a family and meaningful community, and the less we are able to enjoy true leisure, to be fully human. 

“No capes!”

By Pixar/Disney - This is a screenshot taken from an optical disc, television broadcast, web page, computer software or streaming media broadcast. Copyright holder: Pixar/Disney, Fair use,
Mr. Incredible

It reminds me of the film “The Incredibles.” Like almost all the classic Pixar movies, the cartoon is profound. The main character, a superhero in witness protection, lives out his life as a cubicle drone. The meaninglessness of his work saps him. He withdraws from who he truly should be at home: husband and father.

When he gets a chance to be a superhero at work … finally, some meaningful work … that work also absorbs him and keeps him from being who he really should be at home!

Only when a crisis forces him to combine the two worlds does he find fulfillment.

What he does and who he is has to meet. He tells his family: “You are my greatest adventure. And I almost missed it.”

“Dumber and tanner”

You may recall that “leisure” is a loaded word at Hip Socket. Schole, the Greek word for “school” and “education,” also translates as “leisure.”

By Constantin Hansen - Edit of Constantin_Hansen_1837_-_Et_selskab_af_danske_kunstnere_i_Rom.jpg, Public Domain,
Constantin Hansen: “A Company of Danish Artists in Rome,” 1837. I think the only place you see men talking like this nowadays is at the barber shop.

Leisure doesn’t mean doing nothing. While there are times, as a friend of mine says, we all need a vacation break “to get tanner and dumber,” the schole kind of leisure is different.

As the author says, true leisure is required to be fully human.

We tend to bombard ourselves with constant diversions. The schedule is completely full. If not, we’re on our phones. This has been a problem in America that predates TV, let alone smart phones.

You can’t be fully human if you are so busy doing things. We are human beings, not human doings.

When was the last time you really did some thinking? Is it just when you mow the lawn? Or during your commute?

When was the last time you talked into the night with friends about a good book, or an important issue in society? Where you were trying to learn, not advocate a political point?

When was the last time you sat down with your family and just played a game or talked?

Does this make you frustrated with how busy you are?

Does it make you just the slightest bit hungry for more personal time?

More time to think through what’s important in life?

More time to invest in whatever that is–church or family or charity?

(By the way, this kind of clarity about who you are? It makes you better professionally, too.)

I hired a coach to help me reclaim my time. You may need one too. If you need help, let’s talk.