Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Work Therapy

     Ample studies suggest that going back to work as soon as possible after certain illnesses and injuries speeds recovery—opposite conventional wisdom that total bed rest cures fastest. About five years ago, after a serious illness, while I was still underweight and feeling weak and insecure about my health, I got asked again and again by my doctor, “When are you going back to work?”—I guess because he knew of the curative powers of work.

     This past year, work has sometimes been a downer—largely because of my health issues and extra low office morale due to passed-down stress from above and temporary office moves into storage warehouse-type settings that kept getting extended, missed deadlines, more problems with infrastructure, an insecure boss, etc. I prayed, “Please restore my joy for work,” because I've nearly always enjoyed my job, the same that I've held with the state these past 26 years.
     My friend Norm, a burnt-out civil engineer now starting afresh as a nurse after draining his 401K for nursing school, finds his new job stressful and demanding, but rewarding—yet still views it as “just a job.” His son David, fresh out of college and working his first job tells Norm how he hates his work, to which Norm replies, “That's why it's called work. If it was something you enjoyed, you'd have to pay them to do it.” Norm disagrees with me that perhaps David just hasn't yet found his passion. He thinks passion has nothing to do with it as a job is still a job.
     Perhaps I've been fortunate. Or perhaps my home life is sufficiently pedestrian that I often look forward to work after weekends. I've found myself “losing myself” in my work, so immersed in the intricate job details do I get, trying to puzzle out the big picture while yet being very meticulous and precise with every word, number, phrase, tone, and impression, since I do a fair amount of report composition—of a very creative nature—while sticking to the facts, and offering opinions, suggestions, and recommendations to improve the organization in a management consultant-type capacity. I find it fun, worthwhile, and very challenging.
     Except this past year when there was a drought of this fun work and only occasional piddling rote work with low meaning (i.e. chances to improve the organization). We even landed a sucker job that we went through the motions to prepare for and complete. Then, something happened. A novel approach came to mind. We got the approvals to proceed without problem and went for it. Work became fun again.
     But a dead end resulted by following that lead. Nothing of what we'd expected surfaced. So back we went to same ol' same ol.'
     But then a different way of looking at the same dead end info. came to mind, and sure enough, major implications surfaced requiring follow-up, further reviews and analyses, discussions, and so forth—fun, fun, fun! Writing up the report and backing it up with iron clad facts was even funner and more exciting (well, in a challenging, must-think-very-deeply-and-clearly sort of way).
     So my job has always suited my personality. People who see what we do sometimes say, “I don't know how you can stare at those numbers all day. I'd go crazy!” to which I nod, smile, or laugh, knowing I'd never be able to do what they do all day long—dealing with the public, going to endless unproductive meetings, giving lectures, or whatever.

     Oh yeah, my health has been steadily improving especially since I've started enjoying my job again—another answered prayer. Praise God for all his blessings big and small!

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