Leaving and Returning
Kids are always complaining about going to school. When I was a kid, I used to like going to school. I didn’t always enjoy the actual part of going, being uprooted from where I was and what I was doing to go somewhere else and do something different, but once I got there it was okay. At school there was always something going on. Something to learn or some assignment to complete. School wasn’t always fun. Sometimes it was boring, but it was tolerable. I always liked going to school, but I still liked going home better.
Adults are always complaining about going to work. Even people who have really cool jobs often greet Monday morning with a poor attitude. The guy sits in a fancy office all day will complain just as much as the person who is required to test the effectiveness of Tasers and pepper spray. The person who has to clean toilets will complain about going to work, which I can understand. Ice Cream tasters and video game testers will complain also complain about work, which I don’t understand at all.
I have had a variety of jobs. Some of them quite stinky, and others not so much. In hindsight I have always enjoyed going to work. While I may complain about moving where I am (my bed) and changing what I am doing (sleeping) to go somewhere else and do something different, once I get to work I am usually fine.
It is good to go to work. People wither without purpose. It is especially good to go to work. People stagnate when they have nowhere to be. Having a job to do and a place to do it is one of the simple secrets of a happy existence. If I had a guaranteed income, I would still go to work. If I lived in the Star Trek future where there is no money, I would still want to have a job. Someone has to repair the replicators, right? A person needs something to do, and while I do enjoy the occasional stint of doing nothing at all, even doing nothing gets old after a while. Just like everything else.
I have always liked going to work, but I still like going home better. I think that may be the key to something. Without a home there is no context for anything. Many people who are well-to-do, or young and foolish, or both, will promote travel as a kind of ultimate virtue. Travel is just like school and work. I like travel just fine, but at the end of the trip, I still like going home better. Going home is the best part. Of course, you can’t return if you never leave.
Some people say they want to travel forever and never stop. They say they don’t want a home to return to, but they don’t really mean it. Nobody wants to be homeless. That’s why actual homeless people are so sad. Nobody wants to be stuck in school forever. That’s why grad students seem so hollow. No one wants to work for eternity. That’s why indispensable people are always so mad.
School, work, travel. The act of going somewhere is always a chore. But if you have a home, the act of returning is always a great joy. You can say, “Yes, I did a thing, and now I am home,” instead of saying, “I never did anything,” or even worse, “I did a thing, and I’m still doing it, FOREVER!”
A good life is a combination of going out and going home. We want to go there, and back again. This may sound a bit morbid, but understanding the joy involved with going somewhere and then going home may help alleviate the fear of death itself. All of life leads up to a precise moment. It is the cosmic bell that rings when class is over. The grand 5:30 when you can clock out and go home. But you don’t want to leave before class is over, or you might miss something cool. And you definitely don’t want to clock out early, because then you might not get paid.