Category Archives: Work

133. DO NOT WORK…(According to Adrian Tan)

I graduated in 1998 and since then I have been working.

This will be my 13th year as a labourer and somehow, I’m already tired of it.

I feel like somewhere along the way, although I’m privileged to be working at a career I went to college for, I feel that my joy for Life has waned.

I’ve become more serious (when I’m actually quite a joker).

My energy has dropped ( I feel like a 70 year old some days).

My drive for adventure and spontaneity has plummeted into the negative (correction – gone lost).

I even have stopped speaking to my family on the weekends except for an occasional sentence or two, an ‘uh-huh’ or at the very least a grunt.

Work is a chore and it does drain away Life.

Surely money can be obtained by other means?

Peanut butter on jelly or making lemonade perhaps?

I’m still trying to find a way but in the meantime, this excerpt on work from a speech given by Adrian Tan, author of ‘The Teenage Textbook’ to the graduating class of Nanyang Technological University 2008 says it all for me. Enjoy!


(Courtesy of Adrian Tan from his blog Ad Liberte:

*An excerpt from the blog: Don’t work. Avoid telling the truth. Be hated. Love someone.

“The most important is this: do not work.

Work is anything that you are compelled to do. By its very nature, it is undesirable.

Work kills. The Japanese have a term “Karoshi”, which means death from overwork. That’s the most dramatic form of how work can kill. But it can also kill you in more subtle ways. If you work, then day by day, bit by bit, your soul is chipped away, disintegrating until there’s nothing left. A rock has been ground into sand and dust.

There’s a common misconception that work is necessary. You will meet people working at miserable jobs. They tell you they are “making a living”. No, they’re not. They’re dying, frittering away their fast-extinguishing lives doing things which are, at best, meaningless and, at worst, harmful.

People will tell you that work ennobles you, that work lends you a certain dignity. Work makes you free. The slogan “Arbeit macht frei” was placed at the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps. Utter nonsense.

Do not waste the vast majority of your life doing something you hate so that you can spend the small remainder sliver of your life in modest comfort. You may never reach that end anyway.

Resist the temptation to get a job. Instead, play. Find something you enjoy doing. Do it. Over and over again. You will become good at it for two reasons: you like it, and you do it often. Soon, that will have value in itself.

I like arguing, and I love language. So, I became a litigator. I enjoy it and I would do it for free. If I didn’t do that, I would’ve been in some other type of work that still involved writing fiction – probably a sports journalist.

So what should you do? You will find your own niche. I don’t imagine you will need to look very hard. By this time in your life, you will have a very good idea of what you will want to do. In fact, I’ll go further and say the ideal situation would be that you will not be able to stop yourself pursuing your passions. By this time you should know what your obsessions are. If you enjoy showing off your knowledge and feeling superior, you might become a teacher.

Find that pursuit that will energise you, consume you, become an obsession. Each day, you must rise with a restless enthusiasm. If you don’t, you are working.

Most of you will end up in activities which involve communication. To those of you I have a second message: be wary of the truth. I’m not asking you to speak it, or write it, for there are times when it is dangerous or impossible to do those things. The truth has a great capacity to offend and injure, and you will find that the closer you are to someone, the more care you must take to disguise or even conceal the truth. Often, there is great virtue in being evasive, or equivocating. There is also great skill. Any child can blurt out the truth, without thought to the consequences. It takes great maturity to appreciate the value of silence.

In order to be wary of the truth, you must first know it. That requires great frankness to yourself. Never fool the person in the mirror.”

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