Leaving Work to Gaze at Sunsets
I believe in leaving work at five o’clock. In a nation that operates on a staunch Protestant work ethic, this belief could be considered radical. Working only 40 hours a week? I just don’t know many people who punch out at five o’clock anymore. It seems downright quaint, like pocket watches and shoe shines. My father tried to teach me the importance of hard work, long hours and dedication to a career. But then there are the things he taught me unintentionally, like when he arrived home from work for the last time and crawled up the stairs. My father, a self-employed sales trainer, was that sick, that tired. His body was wracked with liver cancer, and he suffered the effects of a diabetic ulcer. Still, he insisted on traveling to honor his commitment to give a seminar. He probably earned a lot of money that day, and he paid the price: He returned to the hospital soon after and was dead within three months, at age 58.
我的信念是在五点结束每天的工作。 在这个奉行新教徒那套“工作至上”理念的国度,我的这一信念可算是激进。每周只工作40小时?我认识的人中很少是下午五点打卡下班的。那看起来就跟怀表、鞋油这类东西一样,简直是过时而怪异。 我父亲尽力教导我勤奋工作、超时工作以及献身事业这几点的重要性。但后来,他也无意中教了我一些东西,比如那次当他最后一次下班回家爬上楼梯的时候。 我父亲是一名自雇的销售培训师。那天,他已经病得很厉害,疲惫不堪。肝癌拖垮了他的身体,他还饱受糖尿病溃疡的折磨。然而,他为履行承诺仍坚持到外地主持一个研讨会。他那天可能赚了不少钱,但他也付出了代价——不久之后又住进了医院,而且三个月后就去世了,终年58岁。
It’s been 10 years since I saw my father come home that night and since then, I’ve thought a lot about work. I’ve decided something: I will never crawl up the stairs. As much as I love my job as a newspaper reporter, I will never work myself into the ground, literally or figuratively. The idea of leaving work at work didn’t come easily to me. After all, I am my father’s daughter. In college, I wasn’t going to keg parties in a frat basement; I was the girl who lingered on the library steps each morning, waiting for the doors to open. I even dreamt about schoolwork.
My dad once told me he was unable to just gaze at a sunset; he had to be doing something as he looked at it—writing, reading, playing chess. You could say he was a success: He was a published author, an accomplished musician, fluent in German and the American Sign Language. That’s an impressive list, but here’s the thing: I want to gaze at sunsets. I don’t want to meet a deadline during them or be writing a column at the same time, or glance at them over the top of a book. This raises the question: If I leave work at five o’ clock to watch the sunset, what are the consequences? Do I risk not reaching the top of my profession? Maybe, because honestly, knocking off after eight hours probably won’t earn me the corner office or the lucrative promotion. But hey, leaving work at five o’ clock means I eat dinner with my family. I get to hop on my bike and pedal through the streets of my hometown as the shadows lengthen and the traffic thins. And I get to take in a lot of sunsets. That’s got to be worth something.
我父亲曾经告诉我,他就是没法凝视夕阳。看着夕阳的同时他还得做些别的事——写作、阅读、下象棋。你可以称他是成功人士:他是一名发表过作品的作家,一位有造诣的音乐家,能说流利的德语,能熟练运用美国手语。这一连串成就看起来挺厉害的。但问题是:我想凝视夕阳。我不想边看夕阳边赶在最后期限前完成工作,也不想边看边给专栏赶稿,又或者是看着书,偶尔才朝那一抹夕阳瞥上一眼。 这引发了一个问题:如果我五点就下班去看夕阳,会有什么后果?我是否就无法爬到职场最高位?也许是,因为说实话,工作八小时就下班,想搬进角落的高层办公室或升职加薪是不太可能的。 不过,嘿,五点就下班意味着我能和家人共进晚餐。我跳上单车,穿梭在家乡的大小街道上,一切在夕阳的余晖中被拉长了影子,路上车少人稀。 从此,我看了不少夕阳美景。这肯定有其价值所在。