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  • Anna Brix Thomsen

What You Should Ask Yourself About Why You Go to Work Every Day: DAY 66

Today I am taking inventory and within that re-committing myself to the work that I am doing as a teacher – with a new starting-point and direction. I invite you to walk with me here:

It has been a year since I started working as a teacher in the Swedish school system. Today one of my students asked me if I liked teaching children. She is 7. I answered that I like it a lot and this is true. I learn something new every day, about children, about communication, about relationships, about the school system, about scheduling and organizing and about teaching. It has taken me the better part of a year to establish an effective way of teaching. When I started the job, I came to a position where no lesson material or books existed, without any experience with teaching. (I’ve worked in preschools previously but never with older children in a school setting). So it has taken me quite a while to build up lesson materials and a functioning curricular. In addition to this, I teach 40 children from age 1 – 16 who is each on completely different levels and thus requires some form of individual lesson plan. I teach them on up to 25 different schools so I spend my week taking the bus or train or ride my bike from place to place, having almost more time transporting myself around than I do actually teaching. The time dedicated to planning my lessons are allocated to evenings, early mornings, weekends and holidays and I have finally found a way that works for me and where the students actually learn something and where I don’t have to spend every waking moment thinking about schedules and planning lessons.

I have been told by my colleagues, who has been the single most important point of support in this process, that it takes up to 2 years before a new teacher is ‘settled’ and can stop running around like a beheaded chicken. Because a lot of what I do can only work in a trial-and-error kind of fashion and I have learned that this is okay. This job has been humbling to me. And when I when I came back this January after the Christmas holidays I was very reluctant and resisted going to work. When it has been at its worst, I have thought only about making it through the week, counting the days until the weekend and then felt frustrated and stressed when realizing how short the Saturdays and Sundays goes by.

So today I had a chat with myself about this point, about how I’ve pitied myself because I have to go to work, about how petrified and desperate I’ve felt every week when Monday came around. I know that many people in this world feel the same way; we know that we are virtually existing as work-hamsters in the hamster wheel of the global economy, we know that there is no escape, we know that we have no choice but to do it – – and still there is a part of us, an awareness that this is not how it is supposed to be, that this is not how life is supposed to be. Now – obviously within the current world-system there are no alternatives to the daily rut of day (and night) labor in all its various shapes and forms. Sure, we are offered the seductive illusory carrot that is American Idol or Professional sports – but we all know how slim the chances of getting into such a position are, how few people win the lottery.  And if you’ve seen the movies The Island or The Matrix or the Hunger Games you know for a fact that there is no bounty beach waiting for us at the end of a hard working life. (If not I suggest go watching them).

So what I realized as I was having this chat with myself while walking through slush ice from one school to another is that the situation is what it is. I cannot change the fact that I have to get up and go to work each morning and that when Monday morning comes, the whole cycle repeats itself, week after week, year after year.

What I can change is my starting-point within how I experience myself and how I see the situation. Because – I am here, all limbs intact. My work is not dangerous or debilitating. I don’t have to work two or three jobs to support a family – which is a faith bestowed upon millions of people in this world. I am fortunate enough to even have a job. In fact, I have a cool opportunity within my current position in the world to establish stability within an effective work ethic and myself as I go about my day. I am grateful for everything that I am learning every day. I am grateful for the interaction with the children that I meet. And so I decide to change my starting-point – not because I have suddenly realized how good I have it compared to other people. It is not that kind of realization, although that is something that I have also had to open my eyes to, in terms of understanding how and why I have reacted the way I did, basically do to having lead an incredibly luxurious (read: spoiled) life until now where I’ve spent the last twenty years educating myself in a soft-core education system without any accountability on my part. So it is obvious in this context that it has ‘shocked’ me to enter into the ‘work-force’ and become part of the worker bees of society, a shock that I can imagine most people go through when they realize what it actually means to become an adult in this world.

The realization however has to do with an understanding that, yes, the current system is fucked beyond borders – but there is nothing I can currently do about it. And I am certainly not going to retract to a cabin in the woods just because I can, because that would be traitorous to this very realization and delusional in fact. So the only choice I have left is to be a good little iRobot and produce, produce, produce, in my case produce well-educated children – and while I am doing that and becoming effective at my work, I am slowly but surely standing myself up to recreate this desolated world along with everyone else who has realized the same within their lives – because that is the only choice I can make. That is the only way I can change this situation. And it might not be in my lifetime or in yours. But if I do not want to live this kind of life where work is something we do for the sake of deluded entity called the ‘world economy’ and not to support ourselves and each other to life the best possible life, I wouldn’t want it for the children that I teach either. I do not want them to grow up with the illusion that we have to exist like rats in a maze eating our own tail to survive.

And so this becomes my self-empowerment. And the point of ‘me’ and ‘them’ in the equation dissipates – because it is about the bigger picture now, about all of us. So I go to work in gratefulness, because I have a job, because it doesn’t kill me, because I get to educate myself on how the system works, how the human psyche works. And while I do so I have the opportunity to walk my process of becoming a self-directed individual, who no longer is governed by preprogrammed response and reactive patterns. I have the opportunity to transcend the symptoms of this diseased system such as stress, anxiety and frustration – experiences that I have allowed myself to go into on a daily basis because I was resisting the situation that I am in. I was hoping it would change. I was so spoiled that I felt like it was unfair that I am in this position. But within that reaction was a realization. And that realization is that what we’re doing here on this planet is unacceptable. That realization is that it doesn’t have to be this way, for any of us.

That realization is that this is not what life is and can be – this is not living. And so, I accept the fact that I cannot change it tomorrow and that I have to go to work. But I realize that I don’t have to stress about it, I don’t have to lose anything of myself. I don’t have to feel like I’m wasting my time. I don’t have to feel like I would rather be somewhere else. I don’t have to look at the clock every ten minutes just to see how many hours are left until I can go home. No – I can immerse myself within my work. I can walk my process as I participate in the world-system. I can dedicate myself to do my job with integrity and common sense and remain open to the moments of opportunity that emerge where I can make a difference. And by doing so I can make myself an example, however humble and meager at first – that we are directing the world-system to a change of principles, a change of starting-point.

And so I am committing myself to letting the resistance and reluctance that I have allowed myself to accumulate within me go and instead embrace a new starting-point where I walk into my day as a woman of steel, malleable, but durable and unbendable – and I look differently at the task at hand, because although I am doing the same work as I did yesterday, I am no longer doing it in a desperate hope to escape. Instead I walk with this system that we have created together, hand in hand – to change myself and to change the system as myself, one step at a time.

Investigate the Proposal for a Guaranteed Living Income System – a proposal for a system that has the potential to fundamentally change the concept of ‘work’ from something that we do to survive to something that we do to support and expand ourselves to thrive and LIVE.

I also recommend reading the following blogs:

Natural Learning Abilities blog series – a MUST READ!

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