Measuring a life
The coastline paradox says you can never get an accurate measure of the coastline of a country. How long it is depends how you measure it. If your ruler is incremented in miles you'll get a different answer than if you measure in centimetres. Sounds like an appropriate metaphor for measuring a life. As I travel the coastline of England, and eventually Wales and Scotland, how do I, can I, should I measure a nomadic life? Miles traveled, number of places visited? Or perhaps something more internal. Perhaps how much time is spent nourishing the soul, Soul time repairs and renews our belief in a beautiful world. It's calm time. Down time. Not introspective, but absorptive, taking in the world around you. It opens you and connects you. I get it from the beautiful places I visit, and the more I get the more I appreciate it as a measure of a life.
Flowers. A headstone. And a website.
"Nikki loved to spend time on Ringstead beach or walk the coast path between Ringstead and Osmington". In 2017 she passed away from cancer, and in commemoration a headstone was placed next to the coast path. The headstone has a QR code that links to the website about the life of Nicola Massey.
Living a life that leaves a legacy, a lasting impact on the future, is surely the greatest measure of a life. For all of us, our lives are the way they are because of those that went before us. And those that come after us, whether they remember us or not, will have their lives shaped by the things we do and the ways we live our lives. We should all act accordingly.
Nikki is remembered. Remembered for who she was and the affect she had on the people in her life. We should all be so lucky.
Are we seeing the end of the work life balance? Or maybe just admitting to ourselves that it was always an illusion. The idea that work was separate to life because it happened in a separate time and place breaks down when work happens in the same place as the rest of life. It's the time element of work that confuses the issue. Work that is based on an employer purchasing a certain number of hours in which their employees produce things for the business is a hard to see an alternative to. Everyone working an agreed number of hours looks on the surface to solve the freeloader problem, where someone does less work but gets paid the same, and the over-worker problem, where someone works too much at the expense of their well-being. Of course, in reality we know that these problems are not solved but that at least some of the responsibility is shifted. Perhaps the solution lays in shifting more responsibility onto the employees to enable them to manage their time and the outcomes they achieve.
Other barriers are breaking down too. Friedman's view that the sole purpose of a business is to increase profits for shareholders is giving way to ideas that organisations have wider responsibilities to stakeholders across society. Organisations need to consider their customers, their employees, their suppliers, and of course their impact on the environment.
To not see work as something separate to life but as an interwoven thing for individuals and society will require a new understanding of power and responsibility for individuals and organisations.
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