For the first time in my life, I have just spent 6 months not working. A curious experience… and one that is not coming to an end in the forseeable future. It has recently gotten me thinking about all the people/things in the world that don’t ‘work’ and what that might mean…
When things don’t work, they are usually a source of frustration – and are often discarded, or put in a pile to be mended or altered. But what about people? And what are the reasons why they sometimes don’t work?
I’m not broken. I’m just in limbo… we are living in the USA for a while since my husband is working here, and I am waiting for a Work Permit to allow me to work… but I am filling in the time incubating a baby, which will probably mitigate most of my attempts to find paid employment once the permit arrives. I’m not alone, the city I live in, for example, is populated with a silent minority of aliens like me who are accompanying scholarly partners and are thus temporarily unable to contribute to society in the conventional manner.
And there are many women (and a small – but happily growing – minority of men) who elect to leave work to raise their families – and their contribution to society is huge, if economically unquantified.
There are some who do not work because work seems to have excluded them… the unemployed, who may have been employed once, but our tough economic times has shut them out of the workforce, or who may never have acquired the skills to enter the workforce in the first place.
There are people who are not working because health limits their capacity for employment, and people who do not work because they are able to subsist on meagre savings and find other ways to contribute to the world around them. And of course there are those who are so wealthy that they do not need to work…
But working defines us in many ways… and not being able to identify myself with a fixed role in society has sometimes made me feel like something important about my place in the world might get broken if this not working thing goes on for too long… So over the next wee while I am going to spend some time here considering what I AM contributing to society and looking at those other hidden people who do not work, but are not really broken either.