The intellect of man is forced to choose
Perfection of the life, or of the work,
And if it take the second must refuse
A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark.
When all that story’s finished, what’s the news?
In luck or out the toil has left its mark:
That old perplexity an empty purse,
Or the day’s vanity, the night’s remorse.
William Butler Yeats, 13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939
I came across this poem in a novel I was reading, and it caused me to pause. Today we constantly talk about achieving balance; we perceive that it is the stress of modern times that creates this challenge. Yet this poem was written in the early 20th century. A reminder that this quest is the human condition, a daily challenge of choice. Here are the questions that come to mind:
- Must we choose between success in life and work?
- Or is it the search for perfection of one or the other that forces the choice?
- Is it possible to simply pursue your passion and not distinguish between what defines “life” and what defines “work”?
Elisa – I seek and therefore struggle with living a life of no regrets. I’ve enjoyed great work success early in my career, and huge losses, all before the ripe old age of 40. I was never torn about what to do. I just worked! For my 1st 18 years in my working life – I have no regrets!
Then at 45 I started a family, and now at 56 I am enjoying the rewards and the challenges that 3 young children have brought into my life.
So, do I work – or – do I play with my kids – as a single Dad it’s a question I face daily. It’s fairly easy for me to realize that my children will soon be grown, and the opportunity for me to shape their life, and just simply have fun with them will be history.
I think kids need time with their parents more then they need money from their parents. So for now – I will work efficiently – and maximize my time to raise my children.
I believe my decision will result in the next 20 years of working life will also result in – no regrets!
We spend most of our life working and sleeping. Work will always invade personal time, so I’m trying to adjust my mentality (and my family’s) to how I deal with work “after hours.” I’m about to head on spring break…I will work…but I will try to communicate that upfront with my family and try to feel less stressed and guilty about the time I am working. I can avoid work during spring break and feel stressed and my family with suffer, or i can work during spring break, communicate it with my family, and be fully present and happy when I’m with them. Quality vs Quantity. Talk to me in 2 weeks!
Michael & Gary,
Thank you for sharing. Sounds like this topic resonated. No clear answer, is there? Just daily questions as Gary points out.