“Most men would feel insulted if it were proposed to employ them in throwing stones over a wall and then in throwing them back, merely that they might earn their wages. But many are no more worthily employed now,” claims Thoreau in 1863. I do not believe much, if anything, has changed; it may even be worse. My pursuit thus, since moving back to Brooklyn from the remote and pastoral west has been to find constructive and fruitful employments, see where they lead, what they have to teach, and after finishing a project or employment, move on to new territory, both internally and in the actual projects themselves instead of repeating tasks and toils. For, “[i]f the laborer gets no more than the wages which his employer pays him, he is cheated, he cheats himself…[and in this way, is] paid for being something less than a man” (Thoreau).
We are often paid to be slaves. This enslavement we often unknowingly take on by choice and do not know how to escape. I have chosen and striven not to take the hook, but only the bait.
In the past five months I have been archivist, fashion photographer’s assistant, catalog designer, teacher, resume writer, turtle-sitter, house watcher, copy editor, biographer, Christmas tree seller, writer, book seller, gourmet Bolivian Food Vendor manager and sandwich maker/artist, mover, and a visitor services representative for Central Park.
I’ve been both over and under employed, I have, as I think most do, loved and hated my work; suffered from sleep deprivation and too much sleep; and both excelled and failed at my responsibilities. But all of these jobs, their tasks, situations, and labor toils have been profitable in ways other than monetary. I’ve learned from all of them. If I were to stay too long with any of them, I would have thwarted my profits and began to lose that which is most precious: life, new experiences, growth.
Life consists of changes, new experiences, perspectives, projects, and challenges. With each newness, a lesson can be learned–that is the real profit of work and I refuse to cheat myself of it.
Here are some highlights from the various livelihoods I have pursued:
1. Riding on the back of a semi of Christmas Trees down Broadway in Manhattan
2. Getting to make and eat works of art and be part of an award winning team. With Bolivian Llama Party I made and served food for both the MTV and VH1 Christmas Parties and managed their Brooklyn Bazaar Location.
3. Seeing the publication of Sandra Jackman’s artist catalog completed and archived with the Brooklyn Museum.
4. Experiencing and helping the incredible beauty photographer Lenox Fontaine at work.
5. Saving an apartment from flooding when it’s bathroom pipe burst.
6. Copyediting a Columbia Teachers College Philosophy Phd dissertation (soon to be published in Brazil I think).
7. Helping my student and good friend graduate with a Masters Degree in Performing Arts from NYU.
8. Uncovering the mysteries and secrets of Central Park while working at the Dairy.
I have shed all of these jobs and completed yet another circle. I am excited to announce that I have signed a contract with Zion Natural History Association to write a book for Cedar Breaks National Monument . It’s my first publishing contract with many surely to follow.
Updates are sure to follow more regularly. Here are some pictures from my adventures last year near Cedar Breaks in the Dixie National Forest that I never got around to sharing.