At the gym, I become a communist.
Normally, I’m a pretty well brainwashed capitalist. For example, I believe we need to pay everyone a living wage. I believe that if your business can’t pay a living wage you should not be in business. I don’t think that business should be tied to your identity and your sense of self, but I do believe your business should probably be forced out if you can’t afford to pay people a living wage.
See, capitalism? Competition, individualism, the market wants what it wants and it will get what it gets. And I can be a good liberal too!
Before I started grad school (bear with me here, it’ll all make sense in a minute) I worked for a professional association for special education teachers. It was a very well meaning organization, but there will people there who had been working there longer than I’ve been alive. It took our department 6 months to get a twitter account because we were waiting for approval from the Executive Director. Working there drove me a little bit crazy.
Never before had I really understood how far removed we’ve become from the means of production. There I was, going to the same cubicle every day, writing blog posts and filing expense reports, filling out paper time sheets and sending email after email after email after email after email after email after…
I’m sorry, where was I?
Despite the well intentioned organization, its near century of doing good work for special education teachers, it was pretty clear at that point that my entire job was made up. If I stopped showing up, if the organization folded, nothing bad would happen. No one would lose out except for special education teachers who might miss out on some advocacy that they would probably be able to handle themselves. The whole machinery of lobbyists and advocacy itself is something we’ve invented. People with money made it up to make more money by representing people with money. Sometimes people with less money (like special education teachers) also have lobbyists, but that’s because they have to compete with the people with the money. Who invented jobs to make more money.
You see where I’m going with this? Capitalism!
After a long day of doing made up work in the gears of a machinery I had no hand in creating and no emotional investment in, I needed to burn some energy or I’d go nuts. So what did I do?
I went and ran in place for half an hour. My body, which had come into being honed for growing things, for hunting my dinner and building my shelter (I told you it drove me a little crazy), ran nowhere for half an hour to stave off the insanity of sitting all day doing work that no one needed me to do, that contributed nothing to my life or my sense of self besides allowing me to pay my rent, and my student loans; that contributed nothing to anyone’s quality of life.
No wonder I’m a little gun shy about the 9-5 grind.
At the store I’m working at now, when people hand me money, I give them something. A tangible thing that I think will make their kids’ lives better. And in grad school, I can’t say I was making anyone else’s life better, but man did I love it. And there was the teaching, which at least theoretically was supposed to make the 18 year olds lives’ better, or help them make the world better. Or something.
So over Christmas, I’m going to Australia for a month. And when I get back I have no idea what I’m going to do. But if I end up in an office I might end up back on a treadmill. And who knows what kind of revolutions I’ll be starting then.
Maybe I’ll just stay in Australia…