My cousin and I work in office blocks across town from each other. Funnily, our houses are located in such a way and our timing is such that every single morning, without exception, our paths cross on our drives to work. And we always manage to roll our windows down and have a quick chat before the business of the day ensues. My office is by all descriptions modest and my work is nothing to brag about either. Regardless, I love my work day. Its an interesting place with interesting things. I even enjoy experiencing the traffic jams on the way to work, the unsettling phone calls with clients and all the other downs that come with the ups.
This is not a description of an actual day at the office for me but a game my cousin and I used to play as kids. We very creatively called it ‘Office Office.’ I don’t know where child me got an image of office work from because neither of my parents worked in an office growing up, probably from television or books! Either way, it was this interesting and slightly odd thing that adults did that was fun to imitate! It was fun to pretend that we had important places to rush off to in the morning, phone calls to answers, letters to write and that we had use for adult things like staplers and hole punches.
Sometimes in the real world, when the stars align, I get transported back to the games room of my childhood home where my fake office was located and become a 5-year-old again.
In that mode, I really enjoy my work and appreciate and investigate all the interesting information and tools -digital and physical – that I have access to. I enjoy interacting with all sorts of people and my commute to work and lunch time walks become wonderful and amusing experiences.
During COVID-19-free times, Central London, where my actual office is, is a great place for a lunchtime walk. The footpaths look like they really should have two lanes – one for the super-slow picture-taking tourists and another for the super-busy speed-walking office workers! You can’t blame the tourists for being so irritatingly slow when there are a million things to look at – the old buildings, the new buildings, the red buses, the telephone boxes, the sometimes large and sometime tiny groups of protestors outside important buildings and everything else! The tourists with their poses in front of the red telephone boxes make me laugh! Sometimes I make myself laugh when I catch myself huffing and puffing to my next meeting with an important look on my face or engaging in corporate speak that doesn’t fully make sense.
With the central London lunch time visualisation over, I really want to make two points with this article.
Firstly, that we should all seek out work that brings out the child in us! This can be both through emphasising certain parts of our current job or through seeking to find a new line of work! For me, for example, reading non-fiction, writing, planning projects, and finding solutions to interesting or technical problems is where I lose all track of time!
Secondly, that whether we enjoy our job in its entirety or not, people and things are inherently interesting. How could they not be? If we are consistently bored during a day, we should ask ourselves if we are prejudging things or failing to pay close attention.
This idea of child-like enjoyment and simplicity extends to almost everything else in our world. Another example, besides work, that comes to mind is social media. For a while, I really suffered my use of social media – it became something serious and how I presented my life to my small number of followers became important to me! More recently, I’ve started looking at it as an opportunity to play around. E.g. Instagram is this little world of blank squares that I can fill with whatever images, words, and videos I like for others to see! That’s quite something!
It seems to me that somewhere along the way we got sold on the idea that beyond a certain age, we must look at things seriously. That if we are to be serious and competent adults, we can no longer look at things with child-like fascination!
My hope for myself and for you, person reading this, is that while we strive to get to the places that promise us more fulfilment, we find child-like joy in the ordinary everyday things and events and that we refuse to look at this colourful beautiful intricate world like its anything less than marvellous!!
Note: The heading is by Alan Watts! If you’ve known me long enough, you are probably tired of me quoting him or are soon to be but what can I do, the man was full of brilliant wisdom!