Ming the Mechanic:
Do what you want

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Do what you want2004-06-09 05:18
23 comments
picture by Flemming Funch

Via and from Dave Pollard. This week's That's Awfully Personal question:
Q: You wake up in a strange new world where everyone gets paid the same salary no matter what they do for a living, even if there's no obvious 'market' for it, and no matter how many hours a week they work at it. And everything costs 'whatever you can afford'. What would you do for a living? Is this something you're already good at, or something you'd like to *become* good at? What kind of people would you like to work with, or would you prefer to work alone? And what would you do with your new-found leisure time?
Absolutely fabulous question. Here's Dave's answer:
A: For a living, I'd study and report on the languages of other animals, so that ultimately we could learn to talk to them, and learn from them (more than we do already). I have some skills that would help: Strong analystical and problem-solving ability, creativity and communication skills. But I'd need to study linguistics, to be a better listener, and to pay more attention to detail. I'd like the project to be self-managed, and the team working on it to be self-selected (that means we would pick each other, not that I would pick the team). My spare time would still be spent as it is now -- writing -- though I would probably also spend more time talking with, perhaps in a teaching/coaching (but not lecturing) capacity, young people.
Now my turn. Hm, what would I want to do for a living? I'm not sure I'd consider it something to do for a living if I would be paid the same no matter what. I'd no longer do it for something, at least in the sense of buying myself something in exchange. I'd maybe do it towards something. But basically it would be doing what I want. And I happen to like things that have some kind of point to it, even if convoluted and complex.

So, honestly, what would I do .... hm ... I'd take my time first of all. I'd spend a few months reading. I'm way behind on studying things I don't know. I could have a much better foundation for doing something useful if I were better prepared rather than mostly winging it.

Then I'd pick some new fields to learn. Japanese sword fighting, maybe. What has worked well for me in the past is to learn new fields, particularly in areas where I was a bit uncomfortable or clumsy. Public speaking, acting, singing. So I'll find some new areas of learning that I maybe wouldn't even have thought of. Exploring caves, dancing. I always draw good energy and inspiration from covering previously unknown ground, which transfers to everything else I do.

I would write more, and spend more time thinking about things. And, for sure, inspirations will come up for something I just have to do. Something I see that needs doing, and that I'm burning to do something about. It works best for me when it is as non-planned as possible. I.e. I haven't promised anybody I would do it, and I haven't committed to any kind of schedule. Preferably I just start spending my evenings doing something that nobody expects. I can thus concentrate on doing it as well as necessary, however long it takes, without worrying whether anybody's happy with my performance or not.

I'd want to spend more time in conversations as well. Dialogues. Exploration of what is there to talk about, wherever it leads. I'll avoid the temptation to too quickly commit to action. But when it is really obvious that action needs to be taken, and the right people are there, I'll enjoy the freedom to get to work right away.

The things I'd probably want to do are likely to have something to do with personal or group organization, collaboration, communication, evolution of wisdom, or with mental/emotional/metaphysical tools for better living. But I'd hope to avoid having very many pre-conceived ideas about what it should be, and rather be ready to discover it when it emerges.


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23 comments

9 Jun 2004 @ 05:55 by jstarrs : Just as a side line...
..there's a beautiful short story by, damn, I think it's Ursula LaGuin, which tells the 'true' language story of King penguins, who, as they stand against the biting wind on the ice flows, tell epic mythic poems of their ancient race...  


10 Jun 2004 @ 09:19 by spiritseek : What would I do
I'd have the best laboratory to invent new things,like time travel,projecting your image to another place and be able to view it and others there view you. Anything future oriented for improving life is what I would like.  


10 Jun 2004 @ 10:32 by ov : Guaranteed Income
I get asked this question a lot, and usually reply that I would like to do exactly what I do right now except it would be nice to paid for it, and in fact I wouldn't even need to get 'paid', simply to have a warm, safe place to sleep and food to eat and an internet connection. Even better would be a profession as a permanent 'student' for those fields of study in which the corporate sector has no use (ie does not have any jobs for), and an added benifit would be that the university structure would lead to better student productivity by providing deadlines and structured purpose.

At one time, not that long ago, it was possible to do all of this on a welfare budget, but that has now been made more difficult and less secure. Large amounts of corporate welfare is spent for the benifit of the economy, agri-business is paid money not to grow crops, why can't people get paid for not consuming and polluting the environment. Last Sept when there were lots of talks about cuts to the welfare system I read an interesting editorial that provided a few clues by classifying four different groups of welfare recipients: one group was the disabled and the editorial had no problems with them permanently staying on welfare; another group were those that were dysfunctional due to drugs and addictions and those people could be rehabilatated; a third group was the functional but who had temporarily hit a 'bump in the road' and this group wasn't much of a problem because they usually didn't stay on welfare that long; and the fourth group was the most detested and took the brunt of the polemics, these were functional people that could work but spent there time being 'activists and dissidents'. This reinforced my opinions that the primary purpose of forced labor is for social control of the non-ruling class, along the same lines as Robert Anton Wilson's idea that our society is geared so that everybody is either thinking for the benifit of their boss, or so stressed out and preoccupied with simply staying alive that they don't have time to do any independent thinking.

Unemployment insurance has run out, savings are getting close to bottom, if I don't find a minimum wage job in the next few months it will be dumpster city for me and there is lots of competition for no skill jobs. If I do get a job I am thinking of picking up a counseling certificate in either drug addiction or child care. These jobs are also going through drastic cuts, but I think it would give me skills that I could use whether I was getting paid or not. Hopefully there will be a quiet night watchmens job open up for me that will pay the rent and still give me time to read and think.  



10 Jun 2004 @ 11:41 by ming : What to do
It is interesting that for example what I said I would do, I could really do right now. I don't go to a job, so I control my time schedule. The main thing that would be different if I didn't have to think about money would be a certain peace of mind, an absence of being stressed about whether what I do today really is what will pay. Actually I bet that if I did what I really wanted to, it would probably pay better in the long run. I.e. it would end up being more valuable to others in a measurable way than what I do if I stress out about what people expect from me exactly today.

I've noticed a number of times that what I end up being paid doesn't have any great relation to what I actually do. Right now, what pays our living is work that takes maybe two hours per day. But do I then relax the rest of time and do what I really want? No, not exactly. I fill most of that with working on jobs that don't really pay much, but which might, or which I somehow have gotten into feeling like I owe somebody. And if I lost the one thing that pays the rent, I wouldn't work any less. I'd have to work more and be more stressed. It is a little weird.  



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