Nate Wessel

Specialization is a curse

No matter what kind of work one does, a lack of diversity of tasks from hour to hour becomes a burden and a source of pain. I have no doubt that the manual laborer yearns sometimes to sit in a comfortable office chair and do the comparatively light work of reading and writing. To me, that light work is painful after the fifth hour, to eye, to mind, and to body. I get jealous sometimes of the janitors in the building. I’ve always found cleaning things to be a satisfying task – the outcome and fruit of the work is plain to see; it requires exertion, but not too much. But to do it all day surely would cause pain – pain in the feet, pain in the soul, and an antagonism toward the sloppy monsters continually making small messes.

My kind of specialization, the kind involving long hours looking at a screen and bossing computers around – it causes me pain and requires consolations in the form of intentional and otherwise useless exercise. I sometimes enjoy this, but often it’s just a necessity for the functioning of the corporeal apparatus to which my computer-bossing mind is shackled.

I’ve heard of the Amazon warehouse employees that they must walk constantly, ever on their feet, lifting heavy things, going back and forth, harassed by management. It sounds to me like too long at the gym with a trainer. I would welcome an hour of this every day as a substitute for my hour in the actual gym where my task is just to stir the air and increase the entropy of the world.