The creed of compromise →

Thomas Maloney · Aeon ·

Many of us ask ourselves such questions. Work is a conundrum. We cannot measure the consequences of our choices against the alternatives that have passed us by. We can only try to be thoughtful and humble, empathise, observe others – sometimes a painful exercise – and speculate about what might have been.

Here, then, is my speculation. Work is something we struggle to get and strive to keep. We love-hate it (usually not in equal measure). Sometimes it seems meaningless. I’m told this is the case even for surgeons, teachers and disaster-relief workers: those with jobs whose worth seems indisputable. For the mere facilitators, the obscure cogs in the machinery of the modern economy whose precise function and value it takes some effort to ascertain, the meaning in wh at we do often seems particularly elusive (I should know). I contend, however, that while our lives need to be meaningful, our work does not; it only has to be honest and useful. And if someone is voluntarily paying you to do something, it’s probably useful at least to them.