Why I (Think I) Work

Abhishek Paul
3 min readMay 26, 2022

This is not a definitive statement, but rather an explorative journey into my own reasons — so I suggest you stop reading right now. I’m not even sure if I should continue, but this is a question that’s been nagging at me and I just need to get it out however incoherent, naive or messy. This is another reason you should’ve stopped reading when I asked you to. But you didn’t listen, did you?

There are things at work I enjoy, people I love talking to / learn from and work that just makes time fly and make me feel that I add value / am valued. There are also things that I don’t enjoy doing, conversations I don’t particularly like and people whom I find difficult to connect with (its mostly the other way around if I’m honest). But while these things influence how I feel about work on any given day, they aren’t the reason for me coming in to the office — not even close. These things, especially on the good days distract me from even asking myself the question — the not so good days throw the question at my face. Anyways, that’s enough of the melodramatic stuff (I blame Jordan Peterson for this).

Maybe Louis Armstrong put it best when he said (sang)

I see friends shaking hands
Saying, “How do you do?”
They’re really saying
“I love you”
I hear babies cry
I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more
Than I’ll never know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

But its the opposite emotion that hits me — its the people who don’t have anyone who asks them how they are doing, its about children crying because their parents don’t have the means to take care of them, its about older men and women doing menial work (this is not my main issue) and being treated poorly because of it (this is worse). This is the daily grind for a lot of folks, one day after another with no hope of a better life and sadly no expectation of one either (maybe this is good).

And if this wasn’t enough, life then hits them — sickness, accidents, broken families, untimely death, crushing debts and abandonment. The limited support they had is also brutally shaken /taken away driving them further into debt, despair. This is not JBP melodrama. This is everyday life.

Our maid lost her school going daughter, her first child suddenly. She doesn’t have the money to do the things that are needed, she has to go around and ask people for help — an added burden in the midst of this tragic situation. She needs to come back and continue working in 5 houses to meet their daily needs and now, pay back the loan as well. This is just one recent incident of far too many.

I don’t want to feel sorry for them, nor console them (I suck at both) or just give them time off — I want to be able to tell them not to worry, that all arrangements will be taken care of, that they can take time to wail, to heal and not worry that this is going to come in the way of putting food on the table.

This is a reason that for me makes it worth coming in to work daily and try to do my best, whether its a good or a bad day or even a “nothing special” day. This is something I try/have to remind myself when I start feeling sorry for myself that I don’t earn as much as x or grown as fast as “y”, getting sucked into petty issues and needless arguments, gossip, etc, etc.

Its not the “what” as much as the “why” that matters more to me when it comes to work and even in that other strange occupation we call life.

PS: If I came across as morally superior, a reincarnated version of Mother Theresa, that is the point — feel free to sing my praises and donate to my personal charity. After all isn’t it all about me.

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