Roles, sacrifices and the “value” of “work”

It’s 5 AM this morning.

This is the first of few mornings in the past two months when I have woken up feeling somewhat relaxed. Else, 5 AM has often arrived after three hours of sleep and forcing myself to wake up to work that has to be done for either JSFoo or Droidcon.

What has this work involved?

  1. Writing emails to selected speakers asking them to send their slide decks for review;
  2. Planning for work that needs to get done on that day and for the next few days with respect to logistics and outreach;
  3. Writing emails to sponsors, raising either invoices or asking to expedite the PO/PR process;
  4. Writing to potential sponsors, asking them to respond with either a yes or no about their interest in one of the two events;
  5. Attending to the accountant about the status of taxation and tax filings;
  6. Understanding book-keeping and how to manage finances when running a company; 
  7. Chasing documents for internet connections at event venues;
  8. Fixing logistics for international speakers with my colleague Radha;
  9. Either following-up or asking the team to follow-up on equipment purchases, inventory, vendors, participant ticket booking/cancellation queries, etc;
  10. Writing a press release or publishing videos or making blog posts to push people’s interest in HasGeek events;
  11. Striking a collaboration or two with groups or communities to widen the scope of what can be achieved through each event.

It’s 5 AM this morning.

I am still unsure of the value of all this mundane, secretarial and accounting work that I have been doing since December 2011. I have more than often felt pained or been grudging towards my self about what direction I am moving my own life by taking on these responsibilities. Clearly, there are more exciting things to do in life than sending follow-up emails first thing in the morning, at 5 AM. This could well be somebody else’s job. Why have I chosen to make it mine?

It’s 5 AM this morning.  

Droidcon got over a day ago. I was physically and mentally exhausted yesterday, at 11:30 in the morning. I could only think of watching a movie to lift myself off the inertia, tiredness and adrenalin crash that was setting itself on me after two months of running around.

We decided to watch the James Bond movie, Skyfall. As the movie progressed through the storyline of revenge and anger, I was reminded of my life where I passionately thought and wrote of history – histories of space, histories of everyday practices and relationships, histories of economy and context – and how every history shaped the present and human relations. I was traveling through the lives and journeys of several people, discovering what spaces and relationships meant to them and how conflicts stemmed from these meanings and practices. 

Watching emotions of anger, passion, love and revenge in Skyfall reminded me of moments between 2011 and 2012 where I have harboured and expressed each of these emotions because of the confusion of what my life was becoming with an unfinished PhD, a business in its second year, a marriage in its fourth year, a relationship of friendship and love with my best friend who happens to be my husband, a desire to see him succeed, and uncertainty of what I wanted for myself in life. 

These confusions and the roles that I have subsequently adorned have often compelled me to rethink the “value” of “work” and what kinds of “values” society and people place on different kinds of work – secretarial, programming, research, writing, building technology, solving problems, care-taking, cooking, home-making, teaching, speaking, etc. I have often had to ask myself if I am undermining myself by taking on tasks in HasGeek that society often overlooks because these are not considered world changing or revolutionary. In the years when I was working on my doctoral thesis, my friend Salien used to talk to me about how a task such as “cooking” is looked down upon whereas if the doctoral student or the super intellectual theorist is not fed and taken care of, where will the nourishment for her/his works come from? 

It’s 5 AM this morning …

… and I am still struggling with questions about work, value, passion and desire.

I am still uncertain about where my life is going and whether choosing to sacrifice what one likes to do for what has to be done is worth it. And if it is worth, what is it worth for? Will it change the way we look ourselves and others around us, in the short- or long-term?

Last evening, when I was in the kitchen because my mother-in-law asked me cook another dish for dinner and I caved in to her demands, I wondered one more time whether sacrificing my moment to myself for the greater good of the family (or rather, the men of the family) was worthwhile at all? Whether her questions to me about my unfinished PhD are indicative of the excessive value that society places on on a certain kind of education and does not on everyday tasks of running around including cooking and feeding a family? Whether roles of motherhood, womanhood and care-taking will always be taken for granted because the world and the lives in it are changed by a faster browser or a better app development framework?

It’s 5 AM this morning. 

I am not sure what the day ahead of me is looking like, or the next few days or for that matter, the next few months and yet another year … … …

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About writerruns

I am lost in life. I now run to lose myself and to lose the handles I have been holding on to.
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One Response to Roles, sacrifices and the “value” of “work”

  1. govind says:

    I am sure you are not looking for advice here 🙂 , but anyway …You should start writing a novella, I am sure you know you write very-2 well. You are gifted, just the short story collection to start off would be great.

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