Monday, March 10, 2014

Why It's OK To Hate Mondays

Aren't we supposed to love what we do? At least, that's what all the ads and the motivational speeches and the strength-of-the-human-spirit lobbies seem to advocate. No one should ever dread Mondays but instead look forward to them: "Ah, another glorious week of achievement coming right up ahead!"

Every second is precious and none should ever be wasted earning a living. Rather, live your life, do what you love, and the rewards you're entitled to will come. Life is too short to spend 8 hours everyday doing mundane stuff you hate.

As this song elegantly puts it (or maybe it's putting something else, but I'm mentioning it anyway)

Oh, when you were young
Did you question all the answers
Did you envy all the dancers who had all the nerve

Look around you now
You must go for what you wanted
Look at all my friends who did and got what they deserved

So much time to make up everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way
So much water moving underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away

But then again, as this other song puts it much more succinctly

Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive
In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don't know when that road turned into the road I'm on

The latter's the way of the world: so many things to do, many of them tedious or unpleasant, just to survive. We can't all be dancers, story tellers or Thought Leaders. We just don't have the skills, so we settle for what pays the bills. Most of us aren't cut out for anything other than the ordinary (if we were, the word wouldn't exist): and if you disagree, you should watch "Inside Llewyn Davis." It's the mundane, the bricks in the wall, that keeps life ticking. But this world-view does not lend itself to dramatic cinematography or music with rocks in or words brimming with fire and steel*: it sort of trudges muddy and sad like a river near the sea. Which is also why the movie I referenced didn't exactly run to packed halls or scoop in the awards by the dozen; that was left to the more "meaningful" films.

To put it in perspective, hark back to a less complicated time. I'm sure if you asked the ordinary caveman, he'd have preferred to sit all day by the pond, an improvised-from-hay bag of chicken by his side, watching the grass grow. But the truth of the matter is, the chicken wouldn't get in the bag by itself, and he wouldn't even live to see the sunrise if he didn't take turns with the other plebs to stand guard against jaguars (or whatever) outside the cave every night.

Sure, he'd spend hours listening to the grunts of the Thought Leader on the stone ledge, exhorting him to live the life less ordinary, to "howl at the moon and follow his dreams." He'd gaze enviously at the chap who patented fire and was now paid a chicken leg for every flame lit in the community; the artist with the long, graceful locks, who spent his day in the safety and comfort of his cave, doodling stuff on the walls with deer blood and the newly-invented Tapering Rock With Sharp Edge, who had all the cavegirls flocking to him of their own accord and who didn't even have to spend his evenings raiding nearby caves and dragging them out by the hair...

While all these people presented ideals to aspire to, the truth of the matter is that there was always a small voice in his head which said that he just wasn't cut out for that sort of thing, that he didn't have the vision or the talent. And an even smaller voice which told him that it is he and the multitudes like him who kept the world running - after all, if everyone were a CTO or an artist or a Thought Leader, starvation would set in soon enough and someone would have to relinquish their titles and do the stuff that needs doing. Or the only thing outside their caves one morning would be a huge pile of bones.

Has the world really changed all that much in the millennia since?

*Would even Robin Williams, saddled with, "Let the day be, boys; make your lives very ordinary" manage to get the cash registers ringing?