I was going through my blog reader today and came across a post from 0x000000. While I normally don't cite specific posts, this was linking to a vide of Alan Watts. While it's a three-part series, the first part is the most relevant. Here it is.
So why I posting this? Well, I've recently had many discussions with people about why I "work" so much. 15-hour days don't scare me, and I enjoy stressing myself out or drowing in "tasks" for "work".
Why are those words in quotations? Well, Alan Watts discusses the idea that we should treat work as play, and that this will lead to a more fulfilling life. I fully agree. To me, "work" encompasses: (1) Five Minutes to Midnight, (2) mathematical sociology / social networks / data mining, (3) my involvement in governance (i.e. Canadian Commission for UNESCO). The last example, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, has already been discussed and is a perfect example of the interdependence of work and play in my life.
Essentially, my research helps me see the world in a new way. By studying social patterns and (hopefully!) making discoveries, I understand humanity in a new way. It is both a job, and a humanistic and spiritual journey. My political and social involvement is similar -- by participating in such activities, I also explore culture, youth, and life.
Should everyone live this way? Of course not -- do what you enjoy and do it in a way that supports you and your life. The example that Watts gives of the bus driver is perfect in this case... He says that a bus driver can see his job as stressful (due to harassment and annoying passengers) along with boring (traffic jams), or that bus driver can approach his driving as a form of dance.
Is this optimistic? Maybe... I can only speak for myself, and I've never driven a bus. However, I also do a lot of math and programming (for about 10 hours a day), and what keeps me going is not math for math's sake, but rather the underlying social and humanistic aspects to my work. That's my form of bus driving, and my form of dance.