God I'm an overdramatic cow at times. I blame it on the fact that I just finished watching Saving Mr Banks on the day that I paid off my mortgage, and just three weeks after being dismissed from my job on medical grounds.
I feel slightly melancholy about having become Mortgage Free in the circumstances. At what cost, I ask. I mean, I know to the penny the monetary cost, and I worked for every bloody bit, yet more and more I drift towards thinking about the real cost, and whether its already too late and cost me way too much.
OK, that is utter maudlin crap, but it's the kind of crap that I should explore and exorcise before getting on with life.
No one likes working for a living - or do they? I know loads who do, actually. Studies show that to work, ie to occupy yourself in an effort other than just eating, drinking and living our lives, regardless of payment for such, is our natural state. Its often shown that losing employment or retiring can be devastating, and is always life changing. In most though the need to leave work at work and live a little is becoming an issue. Ironically, working is a big issue.
The nature of our working lives is ever changing, but I'd say that en masse, and in most jobs, it's certainly under more scrutiny and as a result, more stressful than it used to be. Ask anyone about whether the monitoring and evaluation of their job has changed over the last decade, and their reply will be an affirmative and weary one. It's a fact that everywhere we turn people are working in smaller and smaller micro managed bubbles. Bubbles with smaller and smaller spaces for any freedom of thought or deviation from the needs of the employer. Now, I get that ultimately we as employees serve the needs of the employer, but I'm wondering if anyone is keeping any track of the cost to the employees - on a truly massive scale - of this very single minded approach.
The world of work has obviously heeded the growing cries from employees about this trend towards the micro managed workplace and its detrimental effects. Hence the bollocks about Work/Life Balance often spouted by the uppers when the lowers moan. The scariest thing about WLB initiatives is the fact that they are spreading their micro management virus into our lives. They talk about agreeing that life balance is important, and as employers they then try to dictate how that life might be more effectively managed so that it doesn't (heaven forfend) impinge on your work. And since they now want to be a part of ensuring a good Work Life Balance, they think that includes lording it over stuff that is in the Life section in the same way they lord it over the Work Section. Stuff like what you write on social networks in your free time is under scrutiny. How you deal with illness is totally governed by work regulations. Time out of work is meted out at precise levels for the likes of funerals, childcare, moving house, giving birth... Where there once may have been give and take on a fluid level between employer and employee, its become more entangled and bitter than a bad divorce, with each side snatching at every petty point, and trust totally destroyed on both sides.
The toll that this micro managed working life has on people is going to come home to roost at some point. It has to. It surely cannot continue the way it is, robbing people of a meaningful existence outside of their work, and leaving them with physical and mental work wounds that continue to cripple long after the work is done.
I'm lucky. Really bloody lucky. My work wounds hit me early enough to make me realise I was in danger. I'm still unsure whether I got out in time, a bit like not really knowing how much radiation you were exposed to, or how much of the damage will be serious, life threatening, long term, whatever (Told you I was dramatic...)
What has this got to do with Saving Mr Banks, or the price of bread, I hear you thinking - well the film isn't so much about the struggle to bring Mary Poppins to the screen, as it is about how heart-breakingly often the world of work takes its pound of flesh, regardless of the consequences. Maybe we all need some sort of saintly Mary Poppins to float down and save us - from letting work take too big a cut, from neglecting important things like our kids and family, from letting that bubble we work in suffocate everything else in our lives.
As I said, I am incredibly lucky to have popped the bubble and escaped, I feel, just in time. I fear that others won't be so lucky though, and I truly hope this nasty micro managed trend plateaus and starts to fall away soon. Cos its a major shitter.