Rising a bit after 5:10 a.m. this morning, I realized that after a five day break, I was really glad to be going back to work. I enjoy having free time, time alone, a sense of no deadlines. But I take great comfort in schedules, work socialization, goals, accomplishments, creating, and a sense of purpose.
It’s not just about the routine and the schedule. It’s the sense of impact. In articles about Bernie Madoff being in prison, he has been quoted as saying that he is the happiest he has been in years since the lack responsibility, having to make choices, worrying about being caught. Similar things have been attributed to other criminals who find great comfort in the regimented life.
I certainly would not choose prison over freedom, and I would never equate work with prison. But there is much to be said about the discipline and expectations of a work environment. Until a little under a year ago, I worked from home for over 20 years as part of a global team. It was very strange to suddenly “shut down” my old work office in my home, and I now have two offices in a relatively large (by San Francisco standards) flat. Only recently has that old work station felt that it has been freed of my old work life. And I occasionally come across a document or tool from my old life, and I have been attempting to clear them of my current life.
As I find myself at my old work desk in the middle of my flat, I find that there is still a temptation to go back to some of my old routines. And then it fades away. The journey in work life is curious as it shapes self and relationships. I find myself evolving but actually enjoying work more with each passing year. In times of crisis I have tended to turn to work as part of the healing. Not quite a distraction but a reminder that beyond each crisis there is some other purpose to exert energy.