I wasn’t quite feeling well, (and am still a bit queezy) so I haven’t put up some other things I’m writing.  But something wj said the other day stuck with me:

Once you have adequate income, how much do you care about “employment”?

This prompts a question for readers:  What would you choose to do if you didn’t have to work?   Nothing?  What you are doing now?  Let’s call this the “I won the lottery” question, leaving aside what you would do with the money.  I’m interested in what you would do, not what you would buy!  This is going to tie into something I’m thinking of when we talk about work itself.




Filed under EOW question, Ron

8 responses to “Druthers

  1. Icepick

    What would you choose to do if you didn’t have to work? Nothing? What you are doing now? Let’s call this the “I won the lottery” question, leaving aside what you would do with the money. I’m interested in what you would do, not what you would buy!

    Oh, but what you can buy determines what you can do! For example, if I won the lottery I would immediately pay off all my debts. Then I would move into a rental in a decent neighborhood and do nothing for a while.

    Now, I’m doing nothing at the moment (save raising my daughter and helping my sister with my mother somewhat), but NOW I’ve got worries. No debts? No worries.

    But mostly, just like Peter in Office Space, I would be looking to do nothing. I am sure it would be everything I dreamed it would be….

    • kngfish

      Icepick, in this context, “paying off your debts” is something you buy, not what you would do. “Do” here means “how would you occupy your time.” Do you really mean “nothing”? Wouldn’t that get boring?

      • Icepick

        Ron, paying off debts is buying peace of mind. Doing nothing is enjoying that peace of mind.

      • Icepick

        Trust me, I have experience with this concept, having been deemed expendable. Nothing is largely all I can do anymore.

  2. wj

    Actually, I think the analogy to winning the lottery gives an interesting perspective. An amazing number of lottery winners end up miserable and broke with great speed. I suspect that, in addition to not quite realizing the difference between “lots of money” and “infinite money,” they discover that they just can’t cope with that much leisure. Or maybe the problem is with getting a grip on the concept of “just because you have lots of money doesn’t mean that you have to spend it.”

    Any other ideas on why winning the lottery seems to be such a poisoned chalice?

    • kngfish

      wj, do you have any suspicions yourself? Do you think that, perhaps, they don’t have a strong enough ‘non-work’ definition?

      • wj

        That’s certainly the way I would see it. Some people define themselves by what they do — their work is who they are. For someone like that, the smartest thing to do if you win the lottery is salt most of it away, buy the occasional luxury that you couldn’t afford before, and keep working.

        Unfortunately, from what I can see (no data available), those who define themselves by their job seem to be very unlikely to take that approach. You or I might, and we would be fine. But we are clearly not typical (else we wouldn’t be spending a Saturday afternoon writing blog comments!).

        It also occurs to me that someone with that self-image can have a really difficult time in retirement. It seems to be a direct route into the “waiting to die” syndrome — because there really is little or no non-work focus to their lives. Which leads to a random thought: have women tended to live longer because their traditional “work,” running a home, doesn’t come with a retirement date? Someone still has to cook the meals, clean house, etc. — and how often does a newly-retired husband wade in? So, even if they define themselves by their work, “housewife,” they still have a center as long as they are living independently.

  3. When I got laid off two years ago, I took an unintentional sabbatical for the next six months. I was getting severance pay for three months that amounted to almost what I’d been getting on the job, my COBRA was partially subsidized by the government, and I even had a small government grant to upgrade my career skills.

    I mostly used my time to catch up on stuff I hadn’t had time for when I was working 45 hours a week: Reading, video viewing. I rediscovered the library. I kept getting monthly unlimited Metrocards and would go off exploring neighborhoods I’d always meant to check out. My brain had time to breathe and think about what I’d like to do next.

    Since steady jobs for computer graphics people look like they’re becoming a thing of the past, and people are routinely living into their 80’s and can’t afford to retire at 65 anyway, I can see the rest of my life–as long as I have my health God willing–as a series of “working intensely for a few years, catching up on my life for a few months.”

    And maybe find a way to “get value” — monetary and otherwise — out of all this electronic web-weaving.

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