"Work or starve" was the personal motto of my coot farmer Grandfather. Everyday he would get up at 5:00 am, make a bowl of lumpy porridge, and start his 12 hour workday by going out to milk the cow. Meaner than sin and twice as sour, if he caught you inside watching TV in the daytime, God bloody help you. Not working meant not eating and not eating meant DYING!!! In my tiny terrified mind, laziness became eternally linked with death. In this climate of fear and resentment my early notions of work were forged. I took my Grandfather's words to heart. Apparently everyone else did too.
What is the first thing we say to each other when we meet these days but "Oh, I'm soooo busy"? With pinched brows and pained looks, we snuffle on about HOW much we work and how terribly tired we are. In Working Ourselves to Death, author Diane Fassel calls it the cleanest of all addictions: "Compulsive overwork is perhaps the only addiction supported by religion, education, business and society. Modern technology makes employees accessible 24 hours a day to their bosses and clients, and the operating philosophy at a lot of companies is that good workers never let up."
Even our fun activities contain an element of work. After clocking insane numbers of
office hours, we use our "free" time to go roller blading, skiing or mountain biking.