Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Gardening and Washing up and why you should do more of both

Reflecting on my little cleaning frenzy on saturday, I was reminded of something Alain de Botton said in his lecture at the opera house last year on the pleasures and sorrows of work.

He said that a good manager will give his employees work that in some way resembles gardening or washing up. He said, as humans, we find great satisfaction in making order out of chaos.

At the time it certainly resonated, and still now I think he's right- detangling is the key to job satisfaction.

But the thing is, de botton couldn't tell me why. I wasn't too worried though, because it was a familiar idea- a thoroughly biblical one.

Just think- god is a total bandit for order. Just read genesis 1. His world is so unbelievably ordered.

Then, he creates humanity in his image- and gives it the task of nothing less than gardening- making order out of chaos.

The christian worldview says work is good and it is part of our humanity and ordering things is deeply satisfying, because we are made in the creator's likeness.

For evidence of de botton's claim, one need look no further than the stationery shop kikki-k. I am yet to meet a woman who does not love the place - a shop full of tools for ordering your life !

Or, just think of the writer, whose satisfaction comes from making sounds into words, a tangle of words into sentences and sentences into symphonies.

More mundanely, think of the satisfaction of finishing the dishes, mowing the lawn, cleaning the bedroom.

What de botton also missed however is that we're no longer in Eden. The satisfaction of work is diminishes by our stunted view of everything, particularly our purpose on earth. Amazingly, the purpose of work is not to make money and wallow in selfishness- that's when washing up becomes a chore, because everything in this world is measured in terms of how it seves me, not how I serve the earth and others.

I wish I was this convicted by this more often when I stand by the sink. Maybe tomorrow...

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