Why Am I Here?

This is a relatively simple question. And yet, when it comes to our jobs, it is one that so many people seem at a loss to answer.

A very large portion of our lives are spent working. But, other than the obvious financial compensation, why do each of us decide to do what we do? Why are we here? In any given occupation, one would hope that there was some driving force, aside from dollar bills, that made us decide to choose this career, this occupation. Of course, not everyone has that luxury. We all gotta eat. And yet, we all have free will, and we all have choice. So, again, why did you choose this, and not something else?

Why can’t everyone choose a path that gives them the “why”, the reason for being? I have a lot of friends back home in New Jersey, who cannot tell me why they’ve chosen their path, but for that obvious and uninspiring reason of money. I have never understood that, and can’t really fathom why so many people choose job’s that they don’t really care about. These people grind it out just for the money. And it’s not that I think there is anything really, really wrong with that. I understand the need to make money, to be able to provide for and take care our loved ones. But, I think that choosing to spend 40+ hours a week, 2000+ hours a year doing something that you don’t really like doing, is quite simply not the way to live. It seems to be a choice that will, inherently, make these individuals unhappy. So why the hell do people make a conscious choice which will undoubtedly leave them unhappy, leave them yearning for something else, for a different life?

I wonder what it is inside us, some combination of nature and nurture I suppose, that makes each of us make the decisions we do, make the choices we live with. What in our heads makes us sway one way or another? This isn’t about a simple decision to be a “corporate teet-sucking zombie” vs. a “free spirited artist who works for no master and lives life on the edge”. Thinking that there is a “cool” path vs. a “lame” path is just silly. I’m not judging all those folks that work for the man, spend their work lives in a cubicle, or stare at computer screens for the majority of the day. I think all that is amazing if that’s what people enjoy doing. My judgement is reserved for the folks that bemoan each and every day of work, as if they are victims of circumstance, as opposed to what they actually are: the effects of their own cause, the result of their own choices. Living a life that is unfulfilling is what I don’t understand.

Personally, I love what I do. I am lucky enough to manage a restaurant that I believe in, and dedicate my career to the business of hospitality, the business of taking care of others, of welcoming them and making them feel that they belong here. There is a humble nobility in this profession, or at least that’s what I choose to believe. And this fact, this belief in the value of what I am doing, the belief that I am making a positive impact on the lives of my guests, is why I am here.

I didn’t always love my work life though. I worked in a cubicle 8 hours a day, and when you couple that with the 90 minute traffic-ridden commute each way, I was spending about 11 hours a day in a box, wishing I was elsewhere. I decided to make a change. Simple as that.

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Quite often, I wish that people were more aware of the fact that they do have a choice, every day, a choice to decide how they are going to live. How they are going to spend their days. But either way, no matter what people do for a living, whether they love or hate what they do, at the end of the day, they will be able to find some solace in a restaurant or bar, a den of hospitality. And because of that, our doors will be open.