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I was inpsired by the men at the pier to attempt a hymn to the intelligence, peculiarity, beauty and horror of the modern work place and, not least, its extraordinary claim to be able to provide us, alongside love, with the principal source of life’s meaning.

-Alain de Botton, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

This dude tends to find me when I need him. Like The Art of Travel, which found me in a bookstore in Seoul when I was feeling purposeless and adrift in the world.

Then on Thursday, I wandered over the “inspirational” table at the Borders on Chestnut street; I had a 25% off coupon and was thinking about the future. There he was again. I put back the other book I was carrying and took the subway instead of walking, just so I could start reading right away.

Once, he explains, the term “calling” meant a calling from god. Now, most of us pursue a secularized version of this idea, through which we expect to find the same meaning as service to god from working at a desk.  Ambitious!

It reminds me of Mike Rowe’s (host of Dirty Jobs) column in Forbes:

In the long history of inspirational pabulum, “follow your passion” has got to be the worst. … What a crock.

Why do we do this? Why do we tell our kids–and ourselves–that following some form of desire is the key to job satisfaction? If I’ve learned anything from this show, it’s the folly of looking for a job that completely satisfies a “true purpose.” In fact, the happiest people I’ve met over the last few years have not followed their passion at all–they have instead brought it with them.

It’s a dirty job, and I love it!

Man, I love that show.

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