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Not What, But Which Work Do You Do? by Apollo Pampallis

Did you know? There are only two kinds of work. Always were, are, and will ever be. Which kind do you do?

Firstly the nature of the work you do has nothing to do with its content.

Whether you are a garbage collector or a president. Of course, there is no comparison in terms of importance and usefulness here. (Without garbage collectors we would become filthy and sick, whereas without presidents we would be living quite happily. For a start there would be no one to declare wars, and nothing to usurp the freedom of the population to decide on important issues for themselves.)

The nature of work, or ‘a job’ is the description of what one does.

The type or kind of work is the way you do it.

There are two ways of getting things done.

We can see this in Greek, where the English word ‘work’ is seen to comprise  two completely different types or kinds of activities.

The type or how of your work has nothing to do with the ‘what’, but everything to do with the ‘how’ you do it.

The one kind of work we have come to accept as ‘necessary’ to live is doulia. This is a forced, ‘necessary’ labour, to which one is enslaved. It is derived from the word doulos=slave.

The other is ergasia. This noun is derived from the noun ergon=creation.

‘Ergasia’ can be every bit as strenuous, difficult, dangerous as any ‘doulia’.

However, one who is engaged in doulia is doing something begrudgingly, by force, to serve a particular, secular interest which is neither his own, nor the Whole/the world.

In fact, by serving some other individual interest, both individual and the Whole lose out.

Schools are designed to churn out ‘worker’ slaves to perpetuate a certain style of living with values which support neither the individual or the whole, as reflected in the increasing rate of physical and psychological illnesses, social, economic and environmental problems. (I’m an ex 2ndary/3iary teacher)

We have been trained to unquestionably seek ‘doulia’ work as a way to live and win social approval and status. We live in an age where slavery is no longer legally legislated. This is not necessary, as the great majority of us commit ourselves to seeking ‘doulia’ and thus become slaves, living to slave, and slaving to live.

By contrast, ergasia is what one chooses to do. It involves a vision, a love for doing it, whatever it takes, whether it is done individually or in a team, and whether it is voluntary or paid, professional or amateur.

In stark contrast to nature where life spontaneously encourages all its participants to do their thing to the best of their ability, to the benefit of the Whole, and even in religion, where God (or the gods) give us the freedom to choose how to be and what to do at every moment. Each and every participant in nature plays an irreplaceable role, and each plays its own unique role unthinkingly, from stone to elephant, from the massive redwood to the tiniest, sweet smelling flower. As I have previously mentioned in another article, true ‘freedom’ is not total detatchment, but, to the contrary, eleutheria a total commitment to be a conduit to the very Creative Principle which created us. Not what other people, organizations, culture groups, etc (egos) tell, instruct, force, blackmail, us into doing.

My father was a very academically astute, enterprising, imaginative man who wanted to become an architect, but felt obligated to work for his older brother in a foreign continent from the age of 14. When relieved of his ‘brother helping’ duties, he opened his own restaurant. He was an excellent restaurateur, but despite his abilities, his charm and his success, he never enjoyed what he did. It was a doulia. Not an ergasia.

In fact he would not even let his children help him as he was terrified lest they should be identified with this work, rather than take up a profession as was his dream. In contrast, I had friends who were topnotch directors in huge companies, the epitomy of social success who dreamed of retiring to open up their own restaurant.

I, by contrast to my father, no longer have any use for my post graduate qualifications in psychology and education, having followed my heart to an ergasia which is far more effective, both for me and the many more lives that I touch.

In the upmarket Athens suburb of Philothei were two garbage collectors. One was very sensitive to his perceived ‘low status job’ which he did begrudgingly, while the other saw it as an opportunity to be outdoors, keep fit and meet people. He did not worry about social status and felt that he ‘owned’ the sidewalks of Athen’s most upmarket suburb. He also would politely but firmly educate people about self respect and cleanliness when he saw them littering, irrespective of what their social status was. Guess which one was sickly and had children with low self esteem and were ashamed of their father, and which one inherited a house in the selfsame neighbourhood from a rich and lonely widow, whose house husband had died young through ‘work pressure’.

This differentiation between the two types of ‘work’ are by no means limited to the traditional ‘work arena’ of earning money. Guess who makes a better parent? Or teacher? One who sees their parental/teaching role as a ‘responsibility’, or one who sees their role as an honour, a privilege and a unique opportunity to shape the future of the world through the joy of children?

Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, you, as a personality only have ‘one life’. Honour yourself, follow your heart, and do what rings your bell, not what you ‘should/have to’ do, but what you choose. And whatever you do, do it first and foremost for yourself. Even if you have to forego the material ‘luxuries’ of a ‘good (doulia) job’ and live in your car.

Been there, done that and never looked back. It’s tough. But it’s more than worth it. I have faced my fears and broken the chains which kept me down as what I now see as a subhuman existence. Life has offered me so much more than what I would have ever had, (in every way) had I followed the well intended advice of all my friends and relatives to ‘go and get a job’. It’s not easy, but a conscious decision which is most certainly worth making.

Apollo Pampallis is a Life Mentor and can be contacted on Apollo@discoveringthenow.com. He is establishing new web pages in an exciting new alliance. For ongoing information, upcoming webinars, consultations, ebooks and other news please contact him on the above email

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11 Responses to “Not What, But Which Work Do You Do? by Apollo Pampallis”

  1. Soul purpose says:

    Loved this article. It appeals to my heart but then again it’s what I preach too so I would relate to the material. When we bring our ‘whole’ selves to our work we are connected with our creative potential. It’s the only way to be.It makes our heart sing. I have been a work slave and I would never go back to that type of life.

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  2. Jennifer Rodriguez says:

    This was a really great article! I love the way you pointed out the complaceny of the global educational system in keeping us “work slaves”. Thank you for this eye-opening article and please keep them coming. It’s very refreshing to read them.

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  3. Lauren says:

    Thank you for reminding us to do what we love rather than doing something because we “have to.” I like the difference between slave-work and creation. When we love what we do, the creating of it doesn’t feel like work whereas when we detest what we do, then it becomes even harder because we invest negative energy into it and it becomes a burden. Light and Love

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  4. John says:

    Hi Apollo,
    Another great article that really hits home. I would love to know when and how you made the transition from ‘wage slave’ to ergasia and if you face the same fears that I and many others are having right this very moment.

    Thank you again for your insight.

    John.

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  5. Margaux says:

    Great to be reminded that we really our the creators of our lives. I have learned that you can find joy even in the so called slave work we do for others. It is all in how you perceive the work you do. I definitely have found peace and joy when I see all of what I do as a parent and employee for an airline as an opportunity to serve. There is amazing fufillment when you show up in life %100 no matter what you are doing and put your whole heart into it!

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  6. Apollo says:

    Hi John

    Thank you for your comment.

    If there is any virtue to my articles it is not due to my degrees or knowledge but personal experience, such as:
    Even if you have to forego the material ‘luxuries’ of a ‘good (doulia) job’ and live in your car.(and may I add, living off figs at the roadside, catching fish, etc)
    I know about it.

    Further to this I am certain you will find value in the next article.
    My articles are now due fortnightly, and ongoing email reports will also be forthcoming if you would like to leave your email with me to be on the list.

    Strength to you with your courageous decision!

    Apollo

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  7. stephanie says:

    I love this article and the fact that i recieved it just after i handed in my notice to my job because i was so unhappy working there i realized it was suffocating my soal. I know what I want to do and will start to take steps toward fulfilling my dreams this has really helped, thank you

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  8. Marc says:

    Another very insightful article. I think the important thing is to bring awareness to whatever the work is that you perform. ‘Doulia’ work can be OK, if it serves a larger purpose that you are working towards. Certainly, not all of us can work 100% of the time in ‘ergasia’-based work (although that would be wonderful if it were always possible).

    It is when you are unaware, whether performing ‘doulia’ work because you have not stopped to look at the bigger picture, or whether you are chasing ‘ergasia’ work ineffectively (because you won’t do the ‘doulia’ work needed to reach your goals), that each becomes a problem. The flexibility to adapt to whatever the situation life presents you with, is key (in my experience).

    Then, eleutheria becomes possible, even if others try to force, blackmail, or otherwise compel you to do things. You become freer within your own mind than those “with more power,” as Viktor Frankl discovered, and you can use their motivations to assist you in accomplishing your goals, instead of in opposition to what you seek to achieve.

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  9. Leila says:

    I am enjoying this discussion. I like the way the two garbage collectors in your story have such different perspectives on the same work. It reminds me of a story by Ivan Klima about a judge who is forced to collect garbage because of the social system he was in. He endlessly and creatively discusses his work as garbage collector.
    I also agree with Marc about the variable ways the two types of work you discuss can be experienced and that part of the equation is how creative we can be about the work we do not just within it.

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  10. Victoria says:

    I like the way you reference the route of words, and I am glad I studied Greek literature. The Greek people have a wonderful legacy to draw on, to be inspired by and I see that you are helping them.

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  11. Apollo says:

    Marc, yes, at the end of the day I’m sure you will agree it has to do with attitude. Leila, the story about the judge you write sounds interesting. Would it not be wonderful if all people in high positions were not to serve for some time in what society considers a ‘post of lesser status’? Victoria, I am glad you studied Greek literature. Know that the Ancient Greek legacy belongs to all who care to honour it (earn its teachings), not to souls who happen to be born in Greece and automatically consider it their’s…

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