Why we are Anxious

A Lament for Labor, Trapped in a Web

We worry about our health, so we thank our employer for our healthcare plan. Yet, we worry less about dying than we do about getting truly sick and needing to actually deal with using that healthcare. In all this, we lack the time to think about the issue truly at hand — our own mortality. What does it all mean? What is life? What is death? Aren’t we told by those on their deathbeds that their only regret is not spending more time with those they love? Do we love our coworker that much? Surely our life means more than spending our existence working nine to five — but working nine to five leaves us too busy to delve deeply into those questions. We were built to ask these questions. We aren’t asking them.

We don’t celebrate life, dancing around a fire with our tribe, our village. We binge on Netflix and Youtube, indulging in an ever more demographically targeted array of terrible shows. We don’t hunt together, prepare food and raise our children together. We hit the grocery store for frozen meals, eat animals raised in misery, and send our kids to day care. We were built for community, to enjoy the fruits of labor. We outsource the pleasure we were built for.

We sit in an office, eyeing the clock, wanting more time to be free, yet managing to our time when we are free. We work longer hours, toiling with our mind or body for the wealth of another. Are we permanently shackled? Do we have the energy when we return home to truly recover and find ourselves, or do we just find enough time to recharge enough to do it again the next day…the next week? Does each day living this lifestyle leave us one day farther away from being free of it? We wonder why these outdated theories about productivity and work ethic that have already been proven wrong are still carrying on. We weren’t built to sit. We were built to do. We were built to be masters of our own life.

We gain unhealthy weight and lose activity vital to our health (of course, Karen, I know you always manage to stay healthy). We get demotivated. We lose time to find ourselves, our kids, our loved ones, nature. It’s easy to take that depression home with us. In some places and times, every daylight hour is spent working, in an environment that seems constructed to make humans miserable. Offices, cubicles, open floor plans — endless experiments, all resulting in different levels of human misery. We were not made for this. We were made for meaningful work, meaningful environments and meaningful relationships.

We are trapped in a web we cannot find a way out of.


How do we all escape this?

Generally speaking — we don’t. We can’t. The system will feed you endless lies, and as all true abusers, will blame you. You haven’t worked hard enough. You don’t value you the right things. Above all — you are lazy and entitled. As much as you may want to look back at the system and scream “ok boomer”, the system still controls your healthcare, your mortgage, your ability to pay rent and buy food — and the system that you blame on those from the past is now your system. Take ownership and responsibility.

The system is constructed not just to require labor — it’s constructed to control you, your body, your mind. To turn you into a dollar sign for someone else. You living a simple life, in touch with yourself and nature, will not feed the system. A choice to reject that system will result in you be rejected and ejected from the system. The system, ultimately, does not are about you, nor about your decision to reject it.


synthesizing buckminster fuller and alan watts

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