A real job is terrible for your writing, I don’t advise it. But if you must work, aim for some fantastical and inspiring venture; if you don’t think it inspiring…that could possibly be your perspective.
Years ago I decided to look into Buddhism, you know as most lost twenty-somethings do, and even now as a Christian I continue to live my life with sights, sounds, and body intended for the eight fold path. But when first reading right livelihood, I read that we must be able to look at what we do, and see the better good in it, or the bigger purpose if you will. Is your day to day career something that will inspire you and others, and spread goodwill?
At the time I read this I was furious; furious at buddhism! I loved my job but I was a sales person, and there was no way around that. My job was perceived as that of a con-artist; one that only swindled folks to purchase the new widget or gimmick from some foreign sweat shop. I was the scum on the bottom of people’s shoe, the sales people who had come before me were met continuously with slammed doors in their faces over and over again. I supported the altar of the false prophet that was consumerism. My drive and end sight of each day and month was achieving that monetary goal. What was more evil, empty, and human than money? I closed the book and thought to myself, Buddhism will have to wait until this chapter of life is done.
This Christmas, six years later the picture has greatly changed. I am a mother of three, living in the Tennessee Valley. Where I wore a simple name tag, I now don a collaboration of business attire and babes. With my husband’s serious health concerns, my stepson proving particularly challenging this year, my daughter’s three year old birthday, and my husband’s 30th birthday, and then a last minute late night run to the ER with my 87 year old grandmother the week of Christmas I have somehow missed the entire season; my favorite season.
While in the hospital I decided to pass some of my wait time in the hospital gift shop. The walls were lined with knick knacks for all ages and behind the register was a sweet middle aged woman who greeted each troubled customer with the comfort that can only be offered by a simple kind smile. Suddenly I saw that I did indeed follow the right livelihood when in retail. My purpose each day when I walked into my shop was to ensure each customer left with a smile if not in rolls of laughter. I wanted to help bachelors with their apartments, and college kids through their self-discovery. I relieved soccer moms by entertaining their kids and the elderly by simply making an outing easier with a simple chair. I trained young associates for bigger and better things, and provided jobs to those that had nowhere else to turn. My right livelihood shined brighter during the holidays, as I was the face of the season. My smile or scorn touched masses, and I played a large part in creating Christmas Cheer, just like every sales associate does today.
We must realize our true purpose in our careers. Even if it is just retail.