My favorite writer Doris Lessing once wrote: We learn to like what we get. Seven simple words so accurately describe our current state of affair, in so many different dimensions. But yet when I shared this revelation with a friend, her immediate response was: That’s called resignation to life. Such is the beauty of literature. It means different things to different people.
At times I ponder, if I am to hold firm to what I believe as a baseline to my quality of life and refuse to make compromises, is this a good virtue? Or am I being inflexible? After all, many people around me have been putting up with what they see as their accepted daily routines, what I may see as life could have been better and does not have to be this way.
Traditional wisdom tells us that there are things we cannot change, or cost too much to change. To that extend, I often accept what comes my way, for the time being, and at the back of my mind dream of what better life could be like. Who knows? Doors of opportunity may open in the future if I have some ideas on what these doors may look like in the first place.
Once again, I have to relocate to a new office location. And I think I have good reasons to dislike this recent change. One may observe that this is a classic case of resistance to change. For someone who has in the span of three years reported to seven different direct bosses, relocated three times – four if you count being stuffed inside a small meeting room for months as one location – I am not that resistance to change.
Yet, a part of me wishes things to stay as they are used to be. Another part of me is aware that what I am now having is not ideal. Maybe that is why change is hard. Because we learn to like what we get.
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Given a choice, I would want to work where Cynthia works. It saves on traveling time for I prefer to drop her off in the morning and pick her up in the evening – regardless of where our workplaces are – by car. Time is precious. Any added minute to the daily traveling time is, in my opinion, a waste of time.
Last year, I was relocated to a different part of town, away from the central business district. The distance was still manageable, though not desirable. As I settled down in my new area, I began to enjoy the surrounding environment. The national library is nearby, eating places are not as crowded, and there are shopping malls and cinemas close to my office building.
This year, there is another relocation, somewhere far away from the central business district. Very far indeed.
If you were to ask me today: Would you choose a job that requires you to travel to a place near to the airport every working day? The answer is a straight no. But I learn to like – or I think I like – what I do daily. Besides, bonus payout will be in March, my share options will be matured in September, I am not going anywhere in the near future, am I?
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One morning, I drove to my new office sorting out the car park application while familiarizing myself with the area, I could not help but to admire the smooth traffic to work, the blue sky and the green field and the sound of serenity – of the fountains and of the breeze. There were hardly anybody walking on the streets, hardly any car drove by. One man walked pass me with a cup of coffee and I had the urge to stop him and ask where he got it from in this remote area. And suddenly it hit me: Why do people put up with the stress of working in the central business district? The noise, the crowd, the pollution, and more. Why do I put up with the traffic jam on the CTE highway every day?
One afternoon, as I drove out of my home, I looked at the office buildings nearby, I could not help but ask: How about working somewhere near where I live for a change? Maybe I should visualize that as one of my doors of opportunity.
I mean, why not?