Praise for Invisible Work

Invisible Work

“Nobody notices what I do until I don’t do it.”

If you’ve seen this quote before, I’m sure you’ll agree that there is a timeless truth to this sentiment. I’ve been noticing lately the explosion of blogs and programs designed to help you ditch the 9 to 5 and live life large. The featured photos are always exciting and exotic – think yoga on a curtain-draped patio in Bali or climbing mountains in Patagonia. Many of these imagined scenarios sound lovely, and make my life feel frumpy and boring in comparison – which is the point I guess. It IS important to examine our own lives and think about what we really want, instead of just doing the same thing day after day for lack of any better ideas.

But what is with this pressure to be youthful and exciting? It’s as if our lives can’t have any meaning unless we push the boundaries, searching for that next amazing selfie backdrop to make our Facebook friends jealous. I know that some people genuinely crave adrenaline to feel alive (my husband is one of them), but I also know that some people find just as much bliss watching mist settle over a pond (I am one of them).

I also happen to believe in the value of seemingly boring work. One of my favorite book series as a kid was the “Dragonriders of Pern” series by Anne McCaffrey. The dragonriders were the heroes of course, daring, respected and influential. Oddly though, I was always more interested in the people who took care of the “Holds” and “Weyrs” where everybody on Pern lived. I thought about the logistics involved with feeding and supplying all of those people. Where would it come from? If I were in charge, how would I manage it? How would I delegate the chores? I wasn’t interested in fighting dragonback – I wanted to organize.

This is exactly what those self-help blogs aim to save us from – “Drop that scrub brush and become a dragon rider!” If you are truly discontent with your current occupation, then by all means, change it. But for those of you who toil away in jobs that will never look good in a photo, take pride. We need to stick together. War correspondents, dolphin trainers, and wilderness guides may have better stories to tell, but the world would miss us more if we all stopped doing what we do.

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