Monday, November 19, 2007

"I Do Nothing" - Dr. Howard Kutler

When you asked him to describe his job he said "I do nothing." What did he mean by that? I think the meaning was on several levels. But it certainly took me aback. I mean he's a tireless worker – he gets up 3:30, 4:00 every morning and does stuff nonstop. So on one level there was kind of a tongue-in-cheek element in that he was kind of sidestepping my question. I think part of that in fact has to do with his training as a Buddhist monk. I think they're prohibited from thinking about certain things in certain ways. So part of that was to sidestep the issue and joking around.

But eventually throughout our talks I discovered that there was a level of his response that was very genuine, in the sense that he really didn't think in terms of separating out various areas of his life -- whereas this group of activities was under the category of work and job, and then once 5 o'clock comes along then this other group of activities is my home life and friendships, relationships. And then on the weekends this group of activities is my leisure time. He's so fully present in every activity that he does, he brings his full self with him, he employs all of his strengths and ideas and capabilities equally in every task. So in his mind, in a sense, he has no job -- he has no separate category that's designated as work, it's all just part of his life.

But he goes about whatever's he doing in a happy way. There must be a tremendous amount of freedom in that way of life; if we don't have to behave a certain way in front of our boss, and a certain way in front of a stranger, or a certain way in front of our subordinates -- we just are who we are in any context, we'll have a life of much greater ease and freedom. The downside is that's not easy to do. It's taken him a lifetime of training his mind to achieve that. But I think all of us can aspire to get closer to that ideal, so that the closer we are between who we are and what we do I think the happier we'll be.

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