Charlie's Blog: The Day Job


The Day Job

The talentless job you're currently working for just to make money, while in the process of following the career path you are working on and that you actually really want.
URBAN DICTIONARY, day job definition

I have a day job. I use this term because this job is not a career. It is simply what I do to pay the bills. It does not command my passion. It does not contribute to any concepts of self-actualization. It merely feeds me, houses me, clothes me, and puts gas in my vehicle. I hate my day job but not because of the actual work I do. I actually like working, and I engage in labor that can be greater drudgery than the work that earns my paycheck. My hatred for the day job is because of the mismanagers who make each day of my working life a complete hell with their endless stupidity. It is never the work itself but the frustration of that work by people who do no work at all.

The opposite of the day job is the dream job. This is the job you wished you had getting paid to do what you love. You already do what you love, but it costs money instead of generating money. The dream is that this job would actually pay you enough to live on. Naturally, these dream jobs involve professional athletics, music, acting, and the arts. For some weird reason, dream jobs never pertain to the janitorial arts or the digging of ditches.

Dream jobs just don't pay the bills. For every millionaire Mick Jagger, there is one hundred or more people who sing better or who are better looking fronting unknown bands in bars around the world. The simple fact is that a guy like Jagger represents not someone with talent who achieved through hard work so much as a lottery winner who happened to pick the right numbers on his ticket.

My dream job would be working as a full time writer. The problem is that precious few writers can earn enough to pay the bills and this includes those with books on the bestseller lists. In fact, writers who don't write fiction have very little chance of being full time writers because their work can't be turned into movies which pay better than books. Then there are those writers who write full time by being journalists during the day and novelists at night and on weekends. This arrangement is probably worse than being a janitor who writes novels because the journalist must use his brain for the entire day while the janitor's thoughts are still his own.

Many of my writer heroes had day jobs. In fact, I think those day jobs provided inspiration and structure to their days. It definitely makes for a busy schedule and a hectic life, but I think that life is more fulfilling than merely working a job and watching four hours of television at night or writing four hours a day and watching eight hours of television in the evening.

I have come to reject certain ideas. One of those is the idea of retirement. I don't believe in retirement, and I have no intention of ever doing it. I want to work myself to death. Similarly, I reject the idea that you should do only one thing. I love wearing multiple hats. One of those hats is my day job. Another one of those hats is my writer's hat. Still another is my apostolate. Then, there is being a husband.

If I won the lottery, would I keep working my day job? That seems like an absurd question to ask. If I work for the money, having money would end the necessity of the day job. But I have to admit that I would not give up my day job for much the same reason that I would never retire. It amounts to the same thing. Winning the lottery makes it possible to retire early. I equate retirement with decay and rot. I will always work a day job though I might change my field of endeavor to something more challenging. Winning the lottery would afford me a chance to retrain. But the day job is a permanent part of my life.

Being a full time writer is an intriguing possibility except that I can't write full time. I have two to three days off each week, but I cannot write for an entire day on these days. Four hours is all that I have in me at any given time. Unlike my day job, the writing gig takes more energy out of me. I believe that sleep is more for the benefit of the brain than the body, and I find that writing drains me more than a 12+ hour day at work. On a day when I neither write nor work, I feel energized and fresh. Writing is work, and it is more intense than real work. If you doubt this, watch a typical university student procrastinate on writing his term papers.

Not having a day job would not increase my writing output. The problem I have in writing is not so much time as it is material. The day job gives me time to think about what I want to write next. I used to write way more than I do now, but that is because I got married. It was a good trade because being married has been the single best thing that has ever happened to me. Unfortunately, my wife can be a writer's widow during the time I work on my projects. But she has her projects she works on.

Having a day job negates the time I would spend watching ball games on television. I am always in a state of work. Everything I do has a seriousness about it. I don't have time for frivolous things. I don't understand how people can idle away time watching grown men play games. At the very least, you could spend that time playing that game and improving your health and fitness. Even a nap is more beneficial.

We fool ourselves with the notion that we would achieve more if only we had more time. But that is a myth as evidenced from the fact of all the time we waste now. If we are profligate in the small things, why should we be given the greater things?

All of these things make me more accepting of the day job. The day job earns me a living, but it also does something else for me. It keeps me from being lazy. Nothing is more perilous for the writer than success. Success makes it possible to do nothing. I embrace my day job. I don't embrace it the way someone embraces a career, but I do embrace as something more than just paying the bills. It refines me and strengthens me. Work is good for the body and the soul even if it is rarely pleasure.

As for self-actualization, all I can say is that I am not paid to play. This is what people want from a job. They want to be paid very handsomely for what amounts to play. One of these groups of people paid to play is the professional Catholic. The professional Catholic is a layperson who neither teaches in a university nor serves in any capacity except as a full time blogger, vlogger and/or podcast maker. These professional Catholics like to pass the hat for donations to keep doing what amounts to a hobby. They could do this stuff for free while holding down a day job because I do it for free while holding down a day job. I will call it what it is. It is laziness. It is getting paid to play.

I want to live more robustly, and I believe the day job is part of that program. I have never been fond of specialization, and I subscribe to the Renaissance Ideal. Pursue multiple projects. Do many things. My day job is me, but it is not all of me. It will always be me. I work. I am a worker. I want to work until the day I die. I want to work forever. Work is life. Idleness is death. I am grateful to God for the work He has given me. I give it back to Him with love.