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Posts Tagged ‘Phenomenology

How To Rip The Top Off Your Club

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Work or church or bowling: It’s easy to mistake why we’re here

First a quiz:

  1. My company exists to give me a job. True or False?
  2. My church exists so I can feel better about myself once a week. True or False?
  3. I’m part of a bowling league so I can practice bowling and maybe get better. True or False?

Lately I find myself using “club” to describe those organizations that have turned so inward they have forgotten their purpose. Sometimes clients forget they got into the business to help customers live better lives. Sometimes they spend their days fixated on managing up. Sometimes pastors think all these people show up to take direction, fill the offering plates and carry out the pastoral vision. Sometimes parishioners show up thinking this hour will medicate me—I’ll be inoculated from the mundane horror of daily life for about a week.

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Of course, none of this we say out loud. We also try not to say these things to ourselves. But our attitude gives us away.

When I teach college writing classes and we talk about finding jobs, we spend a lot of time talking about how work is thing we do together for others. Work is not a thing set up for the sole purpose of getting money. If you think the former (work is about helping others) you’ll have an enduring, meaning-making attitude that will help you accomplish stuff in the real world. If you think the latter (work is for me to get money/fame/prestige), you will never be satisfied. Might as well trade derivatives on Wall Street.

It is true that we each stand at the center of our world. Philosopher Robert Sokolowski calls that stance our “transcendent ego.” And that’s just how we experience all there is to experience in the world. But it takes a maturing person to step away from the giddy, teen-age fiction that all of everything revolves around me for real.

Is it time to call your club back to the central purpose—the purpose that people signed up for in the beginning—making a difference in the world? If it is, you’ll likely have uncomfortable conversations with your friends in the club. You may even cause current programs to jump the tracks. But that’s ok: that’s what happens when we refocus on the bigger purposes of why we are here.

That is a work that helps all of us in the club.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

 

Here’s a note to excuse my absence

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I’m sorta here and please carry on without me

It’s Monday so I’m sitting in my work chair.

But honestly, I’m sorta still sketching tombstones in the peaceful, cool graveyard. And I’m sorta still walking Dayton’s bluff above the Mississippi thinking how little control we exert over this force of nature overflowing the boundaries we set.

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I’m sorta still at the party commemorating an 83-year-old’s deeply human connections and I’m sorta still cycling through Northeast Minneapolis marveling at the fancy systemic alternative to internal combustion. I’m sorta still reclining in an armchair sorting through Robert Sokolowski’s argument for how little time we’ve spent exploring the notion of absence.

So—yes—I’m here.

Just put your post-it reminder on my forehead. And when I return I’ll send you that copy you wanted yesterday.

Or was it tomorrow?

 

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

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