Do You Love Your Job? Does it Love You Back?

I like the stock art so much that I'm reluctant to change it. aboutme/paulabender

#postaday (it’s just a hashtag).

My colleague and carpool mate Carrie-Anne asked me a question the other afternoon as we were departing The Mothership: Something like, “What kind of job would you have if you could do something you love?” I don’t exactly remember the question, but that is the gist. It hung between us as I drove east toward our children’s schools and our Hawaii Kai lives.

I’m still pondering it. In fact, I even asked my husband about it. And we had decided that work isn’t all that lovable all the time. Carrie asked me about it after I had two very bumpy and rough weeks at work. How bumpy? Scary bumpy. I felt like I couldn’t stop making mistakes, I couldn’t get out of my own way, I wasn’t saying the right things. Since then, the dust has settled, I focused, I slowed down, I made a conscious effort to improve.

When I first came to Hawaii at the tender age of 20, I enthusiastically took up surfing because I had been a water bug since I was a toddler. I love the ocean. Salt water is an elixir for me. There’s a bumper sticker about surfing I used to see a lot: “The worst day surfing is better than the best day at work.” I used to bob out there in the lineup and look at the skyline from Diamond Head to Downtown Honolulu and wonder about the people stuck in their offices. And that’s now me. Do I love it?

To an extent. I get to write, and I love that. I get to write about the technicalities of health insurance, and that’s not something easy to love. But it is still writing, and believe it or not, I do get some joy when I’m handed information about a decision and told to wrap my head around it and write about it and the draft comes back with not too many red marks. I like that, LOL. I like the learning, I like immersing myself into tough subjects, I like the knowing, and I love the eureka moments.

My writing for work makes it possible to write for joy outside the realm of employment. I write this blog. I write in a physical journal with a beautiful pen. I write haiku and other forms of poetry. I have a deeply hidden and secret river of prose that someday I won’t be too embarrassed to market. I communicate through social media.

It might be ideal to love your job, but it isn’t so bad to just like your job, and to appreciate your job for what it makes possible in your life. Holding down a job means you’re paying your bills, you’re merging onto the freeway each day, and centering your car in between the lines of a parking space, on time. At work, on the road, and in line at the grocery store, we are given opportunities to touch lives, to offer kindnesses, to grow into decent human beings.

We are given opportunities to meet others, to build friendships, and to find love. Our lives are woven with our experiences. When we are children, we think we will do the things we love forever, like going to the beach. I wish, but life demands I don’t. As we get older, we realize that chance and opportunity thin out. You hold onto what you’ve got and you’re grateful.

My writing has opened doors for me, including this job. But my writing goes beyond the paycheck, and it opens other doors for me. This time, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cover His Holiness The Dalai Lama when he’s in Honolulu this weekend. I filled out the media request form for credentials, with just this website and my social media scope to offer, and I got it. Sure, I’m going to cover the event on Sunday, but I expect it will have a profound effect on me. I’m just starting the second half of my life and I want to be certain I absorb every opportunity for good and joy that’s out there. Then I want to wring it out of me and into words that brightens someone else’s world, and helps them focus on finding things and people worth loving. Without that, what good is life?