Yesterday I met someone for the first time. Afterwards I sent a follow up email with a joke in it. I didn’t really think about it before I sent it, it was an appropriate joke, suitable for the subject matter and I am at the age and stage of my career where, should someone wish to complain about me making jokes, it would be on them to justify it…not me.
But there are people who would never dream of sending obvious attempts at humour within a work email. They have ‘work’ and ‘home’ and ‘socialising’ as utterly separate boxes that their lives are lived in.
These are the people for whom life is too short. They are forever putting off the actual ‘living’ bit – constantly thinking that they have more time – never allowing a pleasure from one life box to spill over into another.
There is a wonderful podcast (with deep, enthralling archives) on the BBC, called In Our Time. The topics it covers are vast and eclectic but one of my favourites is on the subject of Authenticity. In this episode part of the discussion is around the differences between people who do, and do not, live authentically. One contributor states that authentic people KNOW that one day they will die and live as if this is the case. Inauthentic people also know this is true, but live as if it isn’t. They live as if there will always be more time to do the stuff they want to, or think they should do (‘Lord make me pure, just not today’ – St Augustine).
“You live as if you were destined to live forever, no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed. You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last.” – Seneca
The programme also reassures us that it is not possible to reach a final state of authenticity, we are all ‘work in progress’. Even authentic people have to work at it and WILL slip back from time to time.
I choose to work at being authentic. I choose to (try to) live all of my life as myself, including my love of humour and whimsy, particularly in work emails. I choose to (try to) be my whole self in every part of my existence, without a thought for those who would wish to rein me in for their own narrow, restrictive and utterly pointless reasons.
“It’s not at all that we have too short a time to live, but that we squander a great deal of it. Life is long enough, and it’s given in sufficient measure to do many great things if we spend it well. But when it’s poured down the drain of luxury and neglect, when it’s employed to no good end, we’re finally driven to see that it has passed by before we even recognized it passing. And so it is—we don’t receive a short life, we make it so.” – Seneca