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Friday, March 23 2001

Job description hierarchy

My plan in this topic is not to discuss my own employment history (other than when it might illustrate a larger point), but to talk about work attitudes or ideas. What role does work play in life in general? Can it get out of kilter and how would we know? Is work a curse or blessing, or perhaps the better question is: when is work a curse and when a blessing? Are you enjoying your retirement or expecting to do so when you can take it, or dreading it or finding it vacuous and tedious? Have you known people whose lives ended when their work was taken away by the need to retire?

Maybe there's a hierarchy of "works" or job descriptions that many of us aspire to, or at least did in youth. Possibly the top would be stardom, either in movies, TV, or music. You can do what you love for a short time of the year and make more money than your high school or even college diploma can ever hope to provide. The reality, most of us learn, however, is that "stardom" is not a job description. If it's genuine, it's almost always a combination of good luck, talent, and hard work. Most musicians and actors struggle to survive, so even though the top echelon appeals to the masses, few are willing to put in the effort to get there, and most of those making the effort never achieve stardom.

Next would be sports stars. What could be better than making big bucks playing your favorite game, and in the bargain being a celebrity, the envy of your peers and sought out for your autograph? Again, the odds work against those who try. I'm a member of one of the top athletic clubs in the Bay Area. Occasionally a professional athlete drops in; there's a ripple of excitement in the locker room when it happens (I'm too preoccupied on my own agenda while on the "floor" that if there's a concomitant ripple there, I've never picked up on it). I usually, of course, don't know who is creating the ripple, not following sports with any more than casual attention. But I'm told there are members of the 49ers there occasionally (our club's nearest competitor for a few years was named for one of its owners, well-known former "Niner" Ronnie Lott).

Next might be political prominence. Elected office can be rewarding and also attract some of the side benefits of stardom, as Bill Clinton amply demonstrated. You can make it in politics on your charm and/or charisma and even, if given the opportunity, can buy the brainpower needed to make you succeed, as many think President Reagan did and George W. may find necessary. But politics, like stardom, is costly. The Clintons may have made it look easy, but most of us lack nearly enough cleverness to keep the course.

Next in the job descriptions hierarchy might be jobs that let you do your own thing in your own way, at least much of the time. The professional clergy (priests, ministers, rabbis) have to conduct worship services pretty much on schedule, but that can keep them "tied up" for only a few hours a week. The rest of their time may be "discretionary." Some feel compelled to visit all the parish's sick every week (some of that minority even visit the larger community's sick), but many other clergy undertake that duty only on specific request, and then, unless it's a matter of life or death, at their own convenience. Of course, even being a minister (to use the broadest term for members of the clergy) has a downside as everything does. For one thing, you have to be religious. You have to work at being religious or at least well informed about issues in religion. Nevertheless, ministry probably has even fewer demands on their practitioners than university faculty appointees.

Freelancers may be next. Writers, consultants, contractors of all kinds can be worked in here, especially the best-paid ones. Successful film screenwriters, for example, can turn out 120 pages of writing a year to make a good income. Of course most of the ones successful enough to accomplish that, want more. More than a nice house in just anywhere...more like a house in Beverly Hills. So make it two screenplays a year and contributing paid participation in a dozen or two other projects. Even still, it's exciting and you're free to choose projects. But it's another form of stardom; it chooses you rather than the way around. Then there are the top-selling book authors, the Danielle Steels and John Grishams. One book a year can keep them in the house of their dreams of the corner of the world that most pleases, driving the car of their dreams to the post office and bank.

Entrepreneurs may come next. This kind must like the work they've chosen, and excel at it at the pace of their choosing. Some play at it; others are workaholics (by choice). Probably they all are so good at it that it doesn't seem (to them, at least) like work.

What category would you put next? Would you shuffle these about? Or is it all a whacked theory, to use the current slang.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

The mind of a six year old is wonderful!
Here's a First Grade "true" story...

One day the first grade teacher was reading the story of the Three Little Pigs to her class. She came to the part of the story where the first pig was trying to accumulate the building materials for his home. She read, "...And so the pig went up to the man with the wheelbarrow full of straw and said, "Pardon me sir, but may I have some of that straw to build my house?'"

The teacher paused, then asked the class, "And what do you think that man said?"

One little boy raised his hand and said, "I think he probably said, 'Holy Heck! A talking pig!"

The teacher was unable to teach for the next 10 minutes.

Sent by Trudy Myers

Lenten thought

Happy is the person who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from it is better than gain from silver and its profit better than gold.

Proverbs 3:13,14

Sent by Chris Criminger

Lenten thoughts (i.e., pertaining to repentance and spiritual growth, from any faith-community perspective) are solicited from readers.

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