Archive for July, 2003

Most people know I want a career helping make work more meaningful for people.

I had a conversation last night with one of the camp directors about our warped sense of work. I have several points I would like the world to accept so that we can get on with life and out of the vicious circle of work, consume, work, consume.

  • Work has no intrinsic value. It is only valuable in as much as it serves to better our lives. It is a means, not an end.
  • Work success has a weak correlation with success in life. They are often antagonistic. People are happier with more money up until the point they can provide food, clothing and shelter (about 15,000 bucks a year). The rest of the money is simply to keep themselves from feeling inferior because other people have so much more. Gross wealth inequality between rich and poor causes anxiety and resentment.
  • The role of the government is not to promote finance or generate wealth. The Preamble to the Constitution says the United States is meant to promote the general welfare and ensuring the blessings of liberty. The Declaration of Independence states that we are guaranteed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Money is not mentioned anywhere. As a people we need common goals, such as sending a man to the moon, curing AIDS, making ourselves a healthier country, improving education or caring for our sick and elderly. The government’s obsession with the economy needs to stop.
  • Gross Domestic Product is not a surrogate for Gross General Welfare. We are using the wrong measuring stick. Why is there not a General Welfare Index? The purpose of the United States is to promote general welfare, not to promote an environment where we consume ourselves into oblivion.
  • A man is measured by the value of his human relationships. On your death bed you will remember those you cared for and what you contributed to their lives. Money will be all forgotten. All action that doesn’t move toward increasing the value of your relationships is wasted.
  • The purpose of business is not to generate profits. Profits in business is like blood in people. A company needs blood to continue to live, but the blood is not the purpose of its life anymore than it is the purpose of ours. A business needs an overriding concern that makes it worth doing: Invent new technology, serve yummy food to people in a cool environment, make cars for people that like cars, help people find their calling, etc. Making money is empty and will never warrant people giving the effort that will make them connect to something larger than themselves.

I believe the true measure of a business is not found on the income statement but in the quality of life of its employees. Work should be a journey of self-expression, a way of sharing your best with the world, not something you go to because you’ve forgotten what it is like not to go and hollowed out the rest of your life in the process.

How do you turn the word ‘happy’ into a noun? You drop the ‘y’ and add ‘iness’ to make happiness. How do you turn the word ‘busy’ into a noun? You drop the ‘y’ and add ‘iness’ to make BUSINESS. See any connection?

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I re-entered the world for a few days after having been at camp for about 2 weeks and learned some interesting and important things.

The world is loud. Cars make lots of noise and so do people. Its like a bunch of flies buzzing around your head.

People always have places to go. And when everyone is going in different directions and some of them are in a hurry it adds up to a big mess, bad attitudes and little patience.

People are fat. I’d forgotten how big and poorly kept people can get. I know its sort of normal, but I don’t like it.

Its just a bunch of loud, fat people with no patience running around everywhere trying to do stuff that never subtracts from the total amount to be done.

My dad is working a lot these days. He said that business is sort of bad so they have to hustle to keep things going. But it is obvious that if business were better the work load wouldn’t decrease.

I know the strength of camp is in the community. But there is more to it than that.

There is nature: clean air, shade trees and mountain views.. The absence of cars eliminates noise pollution and forces you to be around trees, dirt, and birds. All that stuff is comforting.

And there is no sense of hurry and desperation….no rush. Your own stress is stressful, but other people’s stress affects you too, like second hand smoke.

And how nice it is to walk! The only place most people walk is to their car. Walking promotes talking to other people you pass along the way. Walking is exercise. It raises your heart rate and makes you feel better. Walking can make you tired. Driving just makes you restless.

Everyone is all about diversity these days. Its like some kind of mantra: Embrace Diversity. I say embrace it if you like, but never forget that there is strength in togetherness. Connectedness is achieved by common threads and shared values, not diversity. There must be common ground. At camp it is all common ground, literally.

There is a sense of place that speaks to you directly: This is good. That other stuff is distracting you.

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Starting next session (this Sunday), I will be moving to the water ski staff. I am going to miss my fellow counselors in Mountain Camp, my connection with the kids and all the exercise I get, but I need some free time so I can begin my life outside camp again.

Utopia is short lived….probably by definition.

Not that water ski staff sucks. I get to ride around in a new MasterCraft ski boat all day listening to music and eating hamburgers off the grill. But it is much closer to the world than camp is. Camp is its own reality.

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I almost broke my shoulder the other day. Was (accidentally) pushed into a concrete wall going full speed. Couldn’t lift my arm the next day and got a nice bruise on the back of my head. They thought I was knocked out.

I have over twenty chigger bites. They are huge red welts the size of quarters that congregate around your joints. Apparently they are near invisible and lay eggs that hatch under your skin. That is completely gross, but they are livable, better than mosquito bites…they just look worse.

I pulled a muscle in my leg learning to play soccer. My legs usually don’t move in those directions, but I promised a British dude that if he learned to play basketball, I would learn to play soccer. He says I have talent. I say my leg hurts and I have to play in the staff soccer game on Sunday at 7am. Yippie.

I have poison ivy all up my left leg from the cabin campout the other night. We thought it would be a good idea to raid the other cabins up on the mountain. My kids loved it, but now I itch and have trouble telling the difference between the poison ivy, mosquito bites and chiggers. I don’t know which I can itch.

I have tendonitis in my right arm from throwing football the first week of camp. It never goes away. It is the least annoying of my injuries and easy to forget about considering I have plenty of other pains to focus on.

This is besides and in addition to the chronic back and ankle pains I have had for years.

I live up on a hill. At the beginning of the summer I remember thinking how it would get easier to make the hike as the summer progressed and I got in better shape. I had to stop and take a break the other day.

Despite all this I haven’t felt better physically in years.

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