What's Wrong With Loving Your Work?

There's a pivotal moment in the film Real Genius where Mitch (played by Gabe Jarrett) decides that he's overloaded his 15-year old brain and needs to flee from Cal Tech.  His roommate, and fellow student, the brilliant Chris Knight (played by Val Kilmer) sits him down and attempts to persuade him that leaving is not the answer, and that Mitch needs to slow down in order to get a grasp on his anxiety.  He proceeds by telling Mitch a story about Lazlo Hollyfeld, the guy currently living in their dorm-room closet (played by Uncle Rico) and how at one point, Lazlo was the top mind the campus had ever known.  He had suffered a nervous breakdown, however, and now lived as a recluse from society, beneath the campus in his own computerized world.  When Mitch asks Chris why this happened, he responds:

"He loved his work."

"Well, what's wrong with that?" Mitch asks in return.

"Nothing," Chris says, "but he thought it was the answer to everything."

I tend to find philosophical importance in 80's cinema and last night this one really struck a chord with me.  I've been mentally and physically drained lately, more so than ever in my life, and I realized that I think about work way too much - from the moment I wake up to the minute I fall asleep.  Tastings, events, dinners, new products, emails, customer requests, criticism, it's all bouncing around my head the entire time I am conscious (and I believe in my unconscious as well).  We need a break as human beings to relax and think about something else otherwise we will eventually crack - even if, like Mitch and Lazlo, we truly enjoy our work.  I used to watch all kinds of old cinema, play basketball every day, record music, cook fancy recipes, and partake in various other hobbies, but currently do very little unrelated to booze.  If you find yourself following the same pattern, think about turning off the Blackberry when you get home and taking some "you" time.  I'm going to start leaving my work at the office more often because I think I might end up living in a closet if I don't.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll