Work and The Worker

James Brown said it my favorite way: “You don’t work, you can’t eat.”

In my house growing up, work was paramount. When there was work to be done (and when is there not?), you never watched someone do the work. You stepped in to help.

So throughout 30+ years of my working life, I’ve wondered a lot about work: Why does some work suck so much? Why do some people get to do easy work, while some dig the proverbial ditches? How do you get to do the kind of work you want? Should you specialize, or learn to do many kinds of work?

When I was 16 my high school guidance counselor advised me that being good at many things might prove to be its own kind of burden. With teenage wisdom I decided she was misinformed, and set out to explore every single area of thought that caught my interest.

Flash forward 20-odd years to my now-illustrious CV containing a smidgen of everything: Choreography, boat-restoring, copy editing and collage. Truck dispatch, community radio, children’s plays and spatial organization. Live event production, house cleaning, curriculum development and résumé writing. Many more, and still counting.

Along the way I’ve learned a bit about human nature and the world of work. These are stories from my journey toward self-acceptance as a jerk of all trades, master of none.

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