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  • What is work?

    It's all someone wants for Christmas, along with health. I found this message on a tree of messages in a little square in Estepona. Just alongside the stable, where Mary, Joseph, the ox and the ass have been patiently waiting in the ante-natal clinic for a couple of weeks now.

    With the unemployment rate in Spain at over 25%, it's unsurprising that this should be on the wishlist.

    Work is not just about money. It gives shape and meaning to life, if it's the right work for the right person. Work defines us. When I was just out of university and unemployed, I felt I was no longer a real member of society.
  • When I was employed, I thought of it as a system whereby I did something relatively enjoyable and occasionally ghastly and mostly boring and meaningless for 37 hours per week in exchange for which my bank account was topped up every month and I could take my plastic card to the supermarket and buy carrots and shampoo and loo cleaner and frozen peas and sausages.

    This same top-up transferred money each month to unknown people for electricity and car insurance and council tax and and gas and water and the internet and so on and so on... and so life rolled on, get up in the morning, go to the office, humdrum day, drive home, go to the supermarket, watch TV, go to the pub, go to bed, get up...

    Only the days without work felt special.

    Then I was made redundant, and I no longer "work".
    When I left work, I fled. In freefall, I fell into France without any particular plan.

    I felt like a bird of the air.
    Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?

    And then, like a princess in a fairy tale, I was rescued by a handsome prince who gave me not just security but also love. That wasn't in the plan at all.

    But I'm not complaining. Every day is a special day. Except that - now I need to find the meaning and shape of my life for myself. I am undefined.
  • I wanted to include this picture in my story, but couldn't find a way to work it in. (I didn't intend that pun!)
    But if you're interested, it's by Ford Madox Brown, and it's fabulous. (You'll need to cut and paste as I can't work out how to create the link...)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_(painting)

    For years I had a copy of it on my kitchen wall.
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