Things to Read - Interesting Articles (Do What You Love (or Not), Travel, New Motherhood, Life at 39, Bikram Exposed, Busyness, and Spoiled Kids)

1. (Do What You Love) - I've been a little sick of the "Do What You Love" movement for awhile now (maybe because it sounds so preachy and idealistic), but I've never been able to articulate what quite bugs me about it (jealousy?), then I read this Slate article and it was like everything clicked.

"DWYL is a secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation but is an act of love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, presumably it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace.

. . . .

One consequence of this isolation is the division that DWYL creates among workers, largely along class lines. Work becomes divided into two opposing classes: that which is lovable (creative, intellectual, socially prestigious) and that which is not (repetitive, unintellectual, undistinguished). Those in the lovable-work camp are vastly more privileged in terms of wealth, social status, education, society’s racial biases, and political clout, while comprising a small minority of the workforce.

For those forced into unlovable work, it’s a different story. Under the DWYL credo, labor that is done out of motives or needs other than love—which is, in fact, most labor—is erased. As in Jobs’ Stanford speech, unlovable but socially necessary work is banished from our consciousness.

. . . .

In ignoring most work and reclassifying the rest as love, DWYL may be the most elegant anti-worker ideology around. Why should workers assemble and assert their class interests if there’s no such thing as work?

. . . .

“Do what you love” disguises the fact that being able to choose a career primarily for personal reward is a privilege, a sign of socioeconomic class. Even if a self-employed graphic designer had parents who could pay for art school and co-sign a lease for a slick Brooklyn apartment, she can bestow DWYL as career advice upon those covetous of her success.


2. (Travel) - Thomas Swick's "A Moving Experience" ponders the "myth" of travel as a necessarily fulfilling experience.

"When we travel, particularly those who go alone, which is most travel writers, we take ourselves out of our lives for a while. We’re capable of enjoying most of travel’s gifts—the welcome break from routine, the glorious novelty, the invaluable lessons—but we’re frequently left emotionally flat.

. . . .

Everyone who travels has the same experience; we’re all outsiders, excluded from the action. Being left out is never pleasant, but in travel it’s even more frustrating because a few days ago you were not just part of a group, of friends or family, you were the envied and celebrated member, the one heading off, as the travel brochures put it, for exciting adventures in exotic lands.


3.(New Motherhood) - I really enjoyed Jessica Stanley's "what no one tells you about motherhood", both because she so accurately describes life at home with your first newborn (actually, by the time F was 5 months old I was already 2 months pregnant with P and back to work full time, so I never really experienced what she describes, but it SEEMS accurate). Further, Stanley does a wonderful job of capturing the tendency of new parents to judge and then she stands back and lets the experience speak for itself.

"The blogger in the piece Emily linked to wrote “I am one of those people who became down in the dumps about having a baby for no earthly reason other than I just found it, frequently, exhausting and dreadful.” Later she says, “Motherhood was, at times, unbearable. The responsibility was overwhelming, crushing; the boredom was total, deep.”

I just spent twenty minutes typing out a big and serious answer to everything in the post, agreeing with some things and not with others. When it got to 8.30, Sunday was tired again and cried briefly in her tired way. I put her in her pram to pretend we were going out, but actually I just rocked her to sleep. When I sat back down I read over what I’d written and found my explanations to be halting (I am very poor at internet-style argumentation), a bit irritating, and also futile. What I think about being a mother is entirely irrelevant. Every woman’s experience of being a mother is as different as we are as people. If I started dealing out parenting advice, I might have, one day, to take it, and that would be truly appalling. I also did not want to have a ginormous piece of hubris on the record to torture myself with in future when things get hard. Lastly, I read the author of the post’s personal blog and really liked it.

Just then, Sunday squirmed and exclaimed “Ah! Ah!” to show she was awake, and I picked her up and put her on my lap.

Does the morning I’ve had so far sound bad to you? It might. But it is not bad for me. Not bad at all."


4. (Life at 39) - Scary Mommy's "This is 39" pretty much nails everything about my life. Spot on.

"At 39 you splurge on Justin Timberlake concert tickets because you love him in a way that almost feels inappropriate — even though you still remember his hair circa the ’90s — but then you find that his concert homage to Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison” thrills you even more than “Suit and Tie.”

You do all your Christmas shopping on Amazon — not because you are all savvy and techy, but for the simple reasons that you cannot bear to deal with crowds and parking at the shopping malls and you don’t have time to shop on foot anyway. ( I once spent New Year’s Eve in Times Square. I went to Woodstock in ’94. When did I become such a wimp and so “busy?”)

People you love have cancer. Way too many people you love have cancer. It makes you angry. And scared.

Thus, you look at moles differently. You start staring in the bathroom mirror for long bouts of time, trying to figure out what is going on above your upper lip and what to do about your forehead and WTH that tiny bump on your temple is.

You dish with your college girlfriends about miracle devices that remove chin hairs and the most comfortable yoga pants for school pick up. Because, you know, that is hot.

. . . .

You find yourself wondering whatever happened to Winona Ryder and Natalie Merchant. You hope they are okay, because they feel like distant cousins you grew up with once upon a time. You have a soft spot for Ethan Hawke and John Cusack and you always will, like the boys next door growing up that you can’t forget. Jake Ryan will always be the hottest boy who ever lived, and no, you don’t want to see a picture of what he looks like now. Thanks.

Your parents are slowing down and retiring. Some of your friends are losing their parents. It feels like some kind of seismic shift to realize that our generation is now up to bat. We’re the ones leading our countries and churches and corporations and the world. It’s us. Donna Martin graduated and has four children now — and so do I. The same people I drank with in college are now in charge of universities and hedge funds and corporate giants and Homeland Freaking Security. Gulp."


5. (Bikram yoga) - I'm sort of obsessed with Bikram yoga, so this Vanity Fair article made me sick, really really sick. I'm trying to separate the man from the practice, but it's not easy (or, perhaps, not even possible) - racist rapist asshole.

"Once Baughn sued, other women came forward. The plaintiffs accusing Choudhury of rape or sexual harassment tell similar stories: Choudhury allegedly singled out a naïve young woman for attention, groomed her with talk of her cosmic specialness, made progressively more sexual overtures, and responded to rejection with angry threats.

. . . .

Tony Sanchez, the original Bikram protégé, who now teaches his own brand of yoga outside Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, takes a longer view. “I think Bikram was a different person at the beginning,” Sanchez says. “He had a lot of intentions to help people. I believe what happened is, along the way, he had too many disappointments with people who were not loyal to him, including me. After he dismissed me, and I didn’t grovel back and cry, he was disappointed. And I believe it’s like the skinny person who finds himself eating a lot of junk food, and eventually that person becomes an obese person. Bikram was spiritually pure and all of that, and then he found himself with so many opportunities to fail, to succeed, and he took them all, and eventually he became an obese person with all his karmic shit that he has to deal with."

6. (Busyness) - Everyone needs a New Years challenge, can you stop saying "busy" for at least a month? I think Tyler Ward is onto something here.

"Busy, it would seem, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more we said it – the more we felt it. The more we felt – the more we acted like it. The more we acted like it – (well, you know the rest). Guess what? When we quit saying it, we reversed SOME (not all) of the craziness.

. . . .

So, here’s the challenge. Regardless of our love or hate of busyness, let’s experiment with what it’s absence does for us.

There are several ways we could go about doing this. Elimination using the 20/80 rule, or a good dose of Parkinson’s law, or any one of a number of popular methods. However, I like Paul’s approach.

For one month, I’m going to stop using the word “busy.” I’m going to resist the comfort of it to try and dig deeper to explain how things really are. If I feel busy, my hope is to be aware enough to discover why and to learn how I can change it.

Join me. Or at the very least, remember that being busy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and often isn’t as necessary as we think."


7. (Spoiled Americans) - And just in case you aren't completely sick of the whole conversation by now, the New Yorker becomes yet another publication to ask the question "Why Are American Kids So Spoiled?"

"When anthropologists study cultures like the Matsigenkas’, they tend to see patterns. The Matsigenka prize hard work and self-sufficiency. Their daily rituals, their child-rearing practices, and even their folktales reinforce these values, which have an obvious utility for subsistence farmers. Matsigenka stories often feature characters undone by laziness; kids who still don’t get the message are rubbed with an itch-inducing plant.

In contemporary American culture, the patterns are more elusive. What values do we convey by turning our homes into warehouses for dolls? By assigning our kids chores and then rewarding them when they screw up? By untying and then retying their shoes for them? It almost seems as if we’re actively trying to raise a nation of “adultescents.” And, perhaps without realizing it, we are.

. . . .

In an increasingly complex and unstable world, it may be adaptive to put off maturity as long as possible. According to this way of thinking, staying forever young means always being ready for the next big thing (whatever that might be).

Or adultesence might be just the opposite: not evidence of progress but another sign of a generalized regression. Letting things slide is always the easiest thing to do, in parenting no less than in banking, public education, and environmental protection. A lack of discipline is apparent these days in just about every aspect of American society. Why this should be is a much larger question, one to ponder as we take out the garbage and tie our kids’ shoes."

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...