Overwork in a Land of Leisure. That’s so American.

I admit it. I’m American. Fully immersed in the culture and fully committed to the life. God help me.

Like so many Americans, I live like royalty. With clean, fresh drinking water and sanitation in my home, I have access to an abundance and variety of food, and I never have to build my own fire for cooking. When I don’t feel like cooking, chefs prepare meals for me. Local grocers store these meals in freezers, so all I have to do is pick them up. Entertainers amuse me at the touch of a button. If I feel too warm for comfort, I get fanned. I leave my trash outside, and someone takes it away twice a week. I keep an animal, just because I enjoy having him. My pet lives uncaged, has his own toys and sleeps on a cushion. I sleep on a soft bed with soft cotton sheets. Life is sweet.

Because I do not concern myself with the common labors of planting, harvesting, hunting and gathering, like many Americans I am driven to occupy this privileged life with some other activity. I work. I work for money. I work for fulfillment. I work to maintain my royal lifestyle. Sometimes, I work an awful lot. When nearly-impossible deadlines crack a whip like merciless taskmasters, I take the whipping. If I don’t make deadline, what will happen? Maybe I’ll lose a job. Maybe someone will be disappointed. Maybe a publisher will have to print a really big photo, instead of an article. No one will die, at least not with my job. Still, I don’t miss deadlines. Instead, I stick to the task, spending sometimes 12-14 hours a day at a computer screen, long past the point where my neck aches and my eyes swell in their sockets. I overwork in a land of leisure. That’s so American.

After a long writing session, like a bear coming out of hibernation, I stand up and look around. I have no servants to wash my floors or scrub my toilet. So I get to work again. It’s what Americans do.

Because overwork is such a part of American culture, our <cough> wise and benevolent government gave us Labor Day: a random day off, just to rest. My first instinct as an American is to say, “Three day weekend? Great! I have time to reorganize the kitchen.” Instead, I think I’ll get outside and play in the sunshine. Look at my kids’ faces instead of their Facebook statuses. Maybe read something that someone else wrote. America rocks.

What are your plans for this Labor Day? I hope you aren’t working!


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