Thursday, December 20, 2012

Busy sitting down

Like many of us, I spent my twenties moving through a series of office jobs trying to figure out what I wanted to do for a living.  Most jobs revolved around my interests -- education, community organizing, or political change -- but the setting was always the same: some version of a room with a desk and computer, which I sat behind dutifully.

For a long time I was unhappy at work and I always thought the job was the problem.  Invariably after a year or two, I would polish up my resume and head for greener pastures.  Rewind and repeat.  You get the picture (and may even find yourself caught up in it at the moment).

In my early thirties, I found myself in the job I had been working towards, directing a small, scrappy advocacy organization that was working for social change and finding success.  But there I was, behind the computer, moving in and out of meetings, the sun and sky and outside world in a window hanging on my office wall like a picture.  And I had a jarring realization -- what if it was working in an office that made me so unhappy?  That was a lot harder to change than a job.

A recent NY Times article about the sedentary routines of our modern life made me think about all of this again.  The article was mostly about obesity, but linked that growing epidemic to a much larger problem -- the western "sedentary life-style that is colonizing the world".  Research studies noted that almost 45% of American's are caught up in daily routines that are almost completely inactive, failing to walk or be active a minimum of twenty minutes a day.

Many Americans wake up from whatever amount of sleep they can grab, take a seat in a car or train as they commute to work, sit behind a computer or cash register most of the day, (hopefully) sit down at the dinner table when they get home, watch some television or go on-line for a few hours and turn in to bed.

Our modern way of living (daily routines that are so routine they are almost invisible to us) might be the real problem.  What is the answer?  More jogging?  Maybe.  Or maybe returning to a way of life that reduces the distance between the outdoor world and our inside lives.  Certainly, we must begin to look at our own daily routines and determine which bring us joy and bring us down, which are necessary and which might be changed.  Hard, but not impossible.  Once you start thinking about it, every small action to turn away from the dominant pattern of inactive, passive life is a radical one.  It is in this way that we begin to stand up again.

1 comment:

  1. Really well-said. After 8 years of growing food full-time, I still feel like I'm getting away with something when I go to "work".
    Hope you guys are cozied in for the winter.