Gifts vs markets


 “Find what you love and you will never work a day in your life” - B.S. internet meme!

If you dive into the evolution of us sapiens, the concept of 8h working days is relatively a new one, let alone mentions of work-life balance. For most of our existence, we were hunter-gatherers and our work (finding food / staying alive) was intervinded with our social play and creative expression. This is to say, work as we know it today is a modern social invention, alien to our genes and habits. If it was not for the human-engineered labour market, we would wander around, exploring the world and jumping like kids from one playfull obsession to another (making stuff), pausing to eat and sleep. For better or worse. This might be an exaggeration, but let’s entertain the idea for a bit.

My point - we can’t go through 9 to 5 work-cycle and feel like unicorns pooping rainbows. Today’s worklife is a trained social function not a biological heritage. In modern times it’s very difficult to “never work a day in your life” as the quote goes. Some of it is inevitable routine and boring stuff that simply needs to be done to keep our social fabric alive. Now, enter hobbies - things you love doing, for short bursts of time.

If you find yourself sprinting inside a rat-race and squized of all creative juices, find a hobby unrelated to your work and stick to it for a while. Even better - find an interesting way to make gifts for your loved ones, people you care deeply about. In the habit of making gifts for other people, you might find your gift, your unique way to express your worldview and emotions.

“Who are you trying to impress?

If you get lucky one day and a big audience shows up for what you do, chances are there will be only a handful of people whose opinion means anything to you, so you might as well identify those people now, make gifts for them, and keep making gifts for them…” - Austin Kleon, Keep Going

One day, if you get very good at your hobbies, resist the urge to turn them into a market offering. If you do, and it becomes your work life, please find a new gift. You need a safe space, a cabinet of curiosities and play, to keep exploring your gifts.

We need more people with gifts who can make a contribution, not more working hours in sterile buildings.