Ad Verbatim IX

Terence D’Costa is a very dear friend and a top-notch creative in the Himalayas.

AN ETHICAL ZUGZWANG

Are alcoholics, alcoholics out of a pathological or a psychological dependence? Is it that they can’t live without alcohol just like a fish can’t survive out of water? Or is the fish so in love with the water that it can’t bear being out of it? Loving something enough to become dependent upon it isn’t all that uncommon. Look at anything you can’t live without. Or anyone. Sheer enjoyment (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – don’t priests enjoy praying?) can turn into love and love into need. We can fast forget that what we once used to want is now something we can’t do without. The ethics and principles gleaned out of a two hundred and fifty thousand year old history may dictate what should or shouldn’t be loved but I bet you’ve never been warned about loving your work?

Workaholics are addicted to work. At least, that’s what the definition claims. I’ll define this further by refining it. Workaholics are addicted to ‘their’ work. Think about it. Workaholism doesn’t mean a mad fetish for work per se. It means one is inordinately driven to do what she or he does. Not what someone else does. We’re all cut out by experience, nature and wisdom to do what we do best and if, fate forbid, we find ourselves doing it, we’re prone to be satisfied. When life fits the bill of our expectations, we enjoy it. An enjoyment with the infallible propensity to grow into habit. The attachment feeds off the infinite fertility of challenge and success and soon everything else ceases to matter. Loving what we do leads to wanting more and more. Until more is not enough. We live to work and forget that it was supposed to be the other way around.

So, is workaholism a bad thing? Before you make it banshee-like to the rooftops, pause a while. And think. Think passionate. You know, the other passionate. The passionate about work, passionate. Think beyond the archetypes. Way beyond the Van Goghs. Be it in your workplace or on your Facebook page, I’m talking about a genera who breathe, eat and sleep what they do for a living so much so, their work is their lifestyle. Their brands are skewed to represent who they are professionally and not who they are personally. And why? Simply because their work matters more to them than they do to themselves. Given such depths of passion, would you as a top-dollar tossing client or customer settle for less? Just as markets have no room for compromise, neither does a workaholic. Workaholism then, is a good thing. Right? Wrong.

Dependence is sadly the last epiphany. When you realize that your passion, love and attachment are a weakness played upon by your buyers (read clientele or employers, if you will), you realize you’re nose-deep in a capitalist Zugzwang. The only way out is down. No surprise then that our ethics are the first to go. Pick up anything in a supermarket today and pay close attention to the ballast. The extra tags, fussy frills, puffed packaging, super-sized boxes and inconspicuous freebies are all there to tell you something. Superfluous is the new black. Give the Devil, his shade of due.

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