“I decided to work to live rather than live to work.” I bumped into a former colleague recently who explained his decision to only teach half time with those words. He wanted to be more involved in his children’s lives and pursue some creative passions. Should one live to work or work to live? The answer seems obvious but maybe it isn’t.
I just saw the movie Spotlight. It tells the story of a group of dedicated reporters at the Boston Globe who were the first to break the story of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. In a city where the church had enormous power they worked doggedly overcoming one obstacle after another, to follow leads, interview victims and confront church officials. The movie shows how their personal lives suffered because of their dedication to the job. One reporter lives alone in a dingy apartment estranged from his wife. I read about another reporter portrayed in the film who said during the time he worked on the story his children came to resent how much he was away from home and were angry about it. One reporter knew her work on the story would jeopardize her relationship with her grandmother.
The Boston Globe reporters did ‘live to work’ in order to break a very important story. They no doubt saved countless children from abuse that may have continued had they not made the scandal public and forced the church to become accountable. It was a good thing they ‘lived to work’. Would they say the sacrifice was worth it?
There may be times when we need to ‘live to work’ but in order to be happy and healthy we also need to have spaces in our lives when we ‘work to live.’ It’s a delicate balance. And I realize as I write this that many people in this world have no choice but to ‘live to work’ just to survive. Having the choice is a gift.