On a Sunday morning in February of 2013, I began a journey that has been transforming the way I understand my life and work. In a profound spiritual encounter, I was called out of an 8 year career in banking that had brought comfort and control to me and my family, and God gave me two objectives: 1. Have my identity rooted in him, and 2. Live a life of adventure.
As I began the transition out of my job and into an unknown adventure where I would begin challenging my previously held understanding of work, a cultural transition was happening in the entertainment industry, which was also challenging my understanding of leisure.
For context, I was born in the 70s, so my most formative early memories of television were in the 1980s. I would wait in eager anticipation of Sunday nights when the A-team would pull of their next miraculous feat and their fearless leader, Hannibal Smith, would deliver my favorite line: “I love it when a plan comes together.” In fact, I was so captivated by their work that I learned to play their theme song on the piano. It’s actually ringing in my ears right now and giving me energy as I write. But I digress. In the 90s, my curiosity and desire for adventure was catalyzed on Wednesday nights through agents Mulder and Scully of the X-files.
And while we would occasionally and haphazardly tape shows on our VCR, for the most part, we were still eager for the event–not the escape from, but the entrance into a new story, a new adventure, a new possibility. And in the words of modern day prophets, Arcade Fire, “We used to wait for it.”
But as VCRs, DVRs, and Netflix ushered the term “binge watching” into our national rhetoric, there was a point when my leisure time began to feel like work. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but many shows began to feel necessary but burdensome. The began to feel like toil. Obligation. “I just have to make it through this.” “It’s on my list.” Or, I have to watch this so I can compete for social relevancy with my friends. Or my favorite (and most embarrassing): “My wife is watching this show in the next room, and I need to keep up with her.” As I began to become aware of this strange experience, I was initially reluctant to share this with others for fear that I was the only one so dysfunctional, but as I began to carefully broach the topic, I realized–unfortunately–I’m not alone.
And this phenomenon has been further engrained in our lives through the storyfication of social media. This week, I’ve found myself habitually defaulting to my Instagram story feed at least once, but let’s be honest, more like 10 times a day, for fear of missing out on the lives of close friends who I could be talking to instead….and strangers who I’ve never met but with whom I have a parasocial relationship.
In these two converging shifts, I found myself adopting a holy curiosity about work and leisure that have prompted a deep introspection for me about how I want to live my life, and I know I’m not alone. As we’ve convened creators, doers, and adventurers for the common good in this community we call FLDWRK, I’ve engaged in enough conversations and been asked enough compelling questions to prompt a deeper dive.
As we begin this conversation as a community, I’d love to know what questions you have or what challenges you face in this realm. Tweet your thoughts + questions to @fldwrktogether or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.