Everyone has a calling in life. Whether or not you step up to the task or not is entirely up to the you. Some of us are meant to be world leaders. Many of us are forged from the molds of management, as we lead people into better lives. Still yet, quite a few of us are content to work the day to day duties of repetitive work. It is all in your perspective where you find your value in the world and what truly makes you happy. Every individual is born into and achieves a certain level of intelligence. This level sets the standard for which tasks they can handle and determines their role in society. Think about people who do jobs you truly hate to do. How is it that they can be happy, performing the tasks they have chosen to pursue for a lifetime?
Appreciating Your Role in Society
Many times we get frustrated with our inadequate lives. We lose sight of our blessings and our purpose to each other. Someone else's tragedy can help us realize our true happiness.
Highclere Castle (also known as Downton Abbey)
Flickr - Vane Xu
Over the past month or so my wife and I have been watching the first three seasons of Downton Abbey which airs on PBS Masterpiece Theatre. For those of you who are not familiar with the series, it is based in England at an old castle (pictured above). The owners, the Granthams, are of the aristocrat society and live out their lives as the elite. Downton employs many people - including footmen, butlers, housemaids, lady's maids, along with various cook positions - just to name a few.
The household runs very smoothly, for the most part. Each person has their individual role they are expected to fulfill and all employment positions follow a hierarchy. A butler should never be asked to do a footman's job, as the duties are considered to be below a butler's status. Carson, Downton's butler, however, is an outstanding man and does take on some of the lower duties when the family runs into a financial crisis.
One man in particular whom I have made special note of is Matthew Crawley. Matthew is the cousin of Lord Grantham's daughters and he is considered to be a part of the elite, except he likes to do things without the help of servants. His independent thinking puts him at odds, many times, with the folks in his social circles, although he is still sincerely welcomed by all. I like not only his style of bridging the wealthy and less fortunate worlds, but I also fell in love with a statement that was made during a conversation between Lord Grantham and Matthew on the front lawn. This statement, from episode 2 of season 1, is the meat and potatoes of this article:
"We all have different parts to play Matthew, and we must all be allowed to play them."
Finding Your Niche
After hearing that phrase uttered, I began to do some reflective thinking. For me the one job that drives me absolutely crazy is factory work. Standing at one station for eight hours a day performing the exact same tasks over and over is a job I have performed in more than one factory with the same internal rhetoric. I just cannot do it. I learn very quickly and must have employment that allows me to grow and perform a diversity of tasks. I'm not sure how some folks can do this line of work, but I did notice that there were some who got satisfaction from doing an honest day's work. Back then, in my younger days, I wrote them off as not being very bright and allowed my inexperienced judgment to treat them harshly. I see things quite differently now.
Over the past several years I have been working in a couple different university kitchens and I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some very dear and special people. One person in particular, who I will call Brian, was hired in through a head trauma recovery center. Brian was in an automobile accident a few years ago and, as a result, he suffered serious head injury which also affected his brain and body functions. He had to learn not only how to walk and take care of himself again, but also how to speak and communicate with others.
Overcoming the Challenges
At first Brian and I were not real sure how to take one another. We worked across from each other and conversation between us was scant. Over time, though, I realized he has a great sense of humor. The perfect common ground to start a work relationship. He too found my sense of humor and from their we began to get to know one another. It wasn't long before we were laughing at jokes and he began to really fit in with everyone else. We all quickly realized what a great guy he is inside, once you get past the effects the accident had on him. We're now Facebook friends and I hold a substantial amount of respect for him, as do all of my co-workers.
As I have progressed through the culinary industry, I have met and gotten to know many individuals who come from special needs programs. Nearly all universities host these kinds of employment as a way to reach out to everyone with the call of diversity and opportunity. By watching these gifted individuals, I have reached a sort of epiphany that goes back to the quote from Downton Abbey and truly drives home the point Lord Grantham was trying to make. Brian and all of his colleagues take great satisfaction in doing even the most mundane or repetitive tasks. They take great pride in knowing that they can work a job, when others they know physically cannot. For Brian, he was very content simply spooning up food on plates for students. For others, washing dishes gives them the satisfaction of putting in a hard days work. I think many times we can forget how blessed we are to be able to function as we do. I know I had forgotten. It is absolutely a piece of wisdom to know that everyone has their role to play in society, and each must be allowed to play their part.
What Does It All Mean?
One of the great realizations I gleaned from this observation deals with the concept of wealth and how it is interpreted by society in general. Many Americans believe that millionaires - or those who are perceived as rich - drive expensive cars, wear $5,000 watches and sunglasses, eat lobster and steak everyday if they choose, always have a Starbucks in their hand or own million dollar homes. Most of this perception is tied to one's profession. And the amount of money they make determines their level of happiness.
Now I would like to believe that there are many of you out there who do not think in this way. But, I would like to challenge your thinking wherever you are on the social scale.
Have you ever thought of someone lower on the social class scale as being inferior to yourself?
Maybe it was that fast-food worker at McDonald's, or perhaps the Wal-Mart cashier who seems to be a little slow at the register. Could it be your neighbor who works a factory job sometimes 50 or 60 hours a week just to barely pay the bills?
The challenge is simply to consider this fact:
People who work in these industries may very well be happier than you, who makes far more money each month and who certainly owns more material possessions.
I will admit that I have caught myself thinking, "How can any one do a job like that and be happy?" There must be something either wrong with them or they are in some way inferior. The time I have spent with people like Brian has completely changed my mindset about people in general. Now I stop and remind myself,
"It is absolutely possible that this worker is very happy doing their job and who am I to judge them. They may possess more wealth than I do."
Downton Abbey has made me think differently about social status and its role in society. It is people like Brian who have given me the greater gift of what truly makes people happy.