A desk job is my definition of hell. I’ve never had a desk job to be fair, I’m sure all jobs are similar, in the respect that they drain you of the enthusiasm you had for the tasks at hand.
The alarm goes off at 7:30am. You have breakfast and get dressed to leave the house for around 8. You arrive at work at half 9. You start the tasks of the day and complete them until there are no more tasks. You pack up for around 6pm. If you are lucky you get invited to the pub with colleagues from work. You say yes but you’d rather be somewhere else. Anywhere else. You leave around half 8 and get home for half 9. You’re in bed by 11 so that you can start again, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day (1993), and those who have watched it know what happens to him in such a repetitive cycle.
A desk job would be hell, but so would a creative one: the tasks which you once loved to do on your own initiative would turn into work over time. As soon as you need to do something the pleasure of the task diminishes.
The idea that the work of someone in the arts, let’s say a painter, is easier than that of someone in an office, for example an accountant, has been around for a long time. I think it is completely wrong. Both the accountant and the painter spend their time on work that they do not deem as important.
The accountant has to deal with the bureaucracy of paperwork, which is tedious, and the painter has to spend time constantly working and reworking compositions to near insanity.
As soon as you need to do something the pleasure of the task diminishes
Both would probably resort to fantasizing about what else they could be doing. Maybe Sudoku or model gaming. They would try and find time to indulge in these fantasies just like anyone else, but they would still both pursue their tasks until they were finished.
The report the accountant was working on is finished and full of the required information that is needed, and the painter has finished the composition and varnished it to present it to a gallery. Both get a sense of identity from doing this, but the painter is still seen as inferior to the accountant.
The Arts are still work. They have deadlines and hours put into everything, so that what is achieved ends up being perfect. A presentation is still a presentation if it has plans for a commission rather than possible profit projections for the next five years. People do things for a reason. Each individual has their own reasons for doing what they do.
The example of ‘a day in the life of’ I gave at the beginning was not a cynical jab at the office worker, it is my daily routine at university. It could easily be that of a London office worker but it isn’t. Let’s not say that one thing is more important than the other, let’s just call it what it always is at the end. A job that requires a whole lot of work.
Banner image: Michal Martychowiec