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The Effort Formula August 21, 2009

Posted by markgeil in Philosophical musings.
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Have you ever dreamed of a life free of obligations and deadlines and nasty things called deliverables? Oh, how sweet to have all the money you need, all the comforts you need, no formal job. Let’s throw in someone to do your laundry and clean your house, too. You could do stuff if you want to, but only if you want to. The only items that wind up on your “to-do” list are items of your own choosing.

The trouble is, I don’t think we’re made that way. We long for such a carefree life, but our desires are misguided. We forget the “effort formula”. I just made it up. It goes something like this: “E is directly proportional to A”. E, obviously, is Effort. A is appreciation. The more effort we put into life, the more we can appreciate one or both of two things: 1) the fruits of our labor, and 2) a reprieve from all that work.

Today is Friday, and my appreciation for the end of a work week is especially deep today. That’s probably because I’ve put so much effort into this week. It was our first week of classes, which for me included lectures and registration issues for one of the largest classes I’ve ever taught: 4 combined sections of undergrad biomechanics. I wrapped up a policy revision that’s taken a year. I remembered that I’m supposed to write a book chapter on anthropometrics, looked up the email from March to see the deadline, found out the deadline is September 1st, and subsequently started the book chapter. (That’s how I roll.)

None of these things would have been on the to-do list of my choosing. But because they were on my to-do list, I am really happy today, because a busy week is ending. Just like the shadow proves the sunshine, our work, however difficult or distasteful if might be, begets appreciation that we cannot experience if we don’t do the work.

Take heart, fellow laborer! You’re mining appreciation.

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