The Dreaming Class

All right, whose fault is this mess? There are some basic facts here I want explained.

For instance: What idiot decided there should be only 24 hours in a day? And what about the seven day week? Has anyone noticed how Monday seems to be uncomfortably close to Friday?

And what about the weekend falling on Saturday and Sunday? I don't object to there being just two days, but how is it that Saturday often winds up being just another work day? It's probably the result of the same short sighted decision which gave us 24 hour days and put Monday and Friday so close together.

And then there is the basic question about work: When and where was it decided we (I use "we" in the general sense, since it doesn't apply to everyone) would have to work for a living?

There are so many wonderful things to be done in the world. Why should we be wasting so much time running through the trees trying to knock fruit to the ground just so we can eat?

All of the foregoing thoughts were generated by a single comment one of my good friends, automotive designer Robert Cumberford, made in one of his letters. The thought may or may not be original to him, but it certainly summed up a lot of things for me.

Robert said, "Work is the bane of the dreaming class."

I got to thinking about that and decided he was absolutely right. It is work that makes the days so short because it leaves so little time for dreaming. Or living out those dreams. It is work that becomes bulky, tasteless, time-tofu that fills the days and takes away from that which should be nourishing us. Unless, of course, there is something about work which nourishes us in the first place.

The foregoing is a dangerous thought: Work as a replacement for psyche-food. Think about that. Work as a fifth addition to the basic food groups. A necessity not because it gives us the money to buy the food, but a necessity because, in its own perverted way, it keeps us alive by giving us something necessary beyond money.

What can work possibly give us besides money? That depends, of course, on what you do for a living, but in any work environment some things are interchangeable, job to job, and necessary for some people. Interaction with your fellow human beings is one of those necessities. In a worthwhile job, those around you become a form of family. Since you spend at least as much time with them as with your real family, they damn well better become worth something to you.

Is there anything worse than a job where you don't like, or don't interact with, those around you? Then it becomes an honest to goodness JOB! Capital J-O-B. You're working for money and nothing else. This kind of situation promotes long-term brain damage. Screw the money. Bail out while you still remember how to pull the rip cord.

Some jobs are like the proverbial tar baby: You think you'll just ignore the "wet tar" sign and lightly touch it. Bam! Just like that, you're sucked in right up to the navel. You didn't plan on staying in that line of work, but it won't let you out. I feel sorry for the folks in that position who don't have a close kinship with the tar baby and love the work. I feel sorry for the Al Bundys of the world.

When it comes to careers, aviation is a classic tar baby. Once you get in, I dare you to escape. I challenge you to break the sticky, octopus like grip it has on parts of your mind you didn't even know existed.

Aviation, for those who haven't figured it out yet, is definitely not a career. It's a disease. Even if you don't actually make your living in it, once you touch its sticky surface, for most folks, it becomes one of those unnamed, undetectable virus's which eventually weevils its way into the darkest recesses of your mind and takes over.

I suppose it's a good thing for mankind that only certain folks with low aero-immunity are so severely infected. Just think how screwed up the world would be if everyone was an av-junkie. It's horrifying to think about it. Just imagine an entire population which looks at the sky and realizes it actually has a practical use. Just think of a neighborhood where people don't point you out while muttering "...yes, he actually flies a little airplane...he's just not... you know... right...!" Just think of a neighborhood where, when you pull your homebuilt project out on the drive way to completely assemble it, the first comment from the first person by is not, " aren't going to actually fly that, are you?"

Why, no, we're not going to fly it. We just spent thousands of dollars and a goodly portion of our lives building it so our neighbors can make dumb comments like that one.

And then there are those of us who actually are trying to make a living in aviation: When I was a kid and my parents asked me what I wanted to do, should I accidentally grow up, I said, "I want to own and fly airplanes."

My dad responded with, "Then be a doctor or a dentist."

I didn't understand him then, but I sure as hell do now.

Actually, as far as I'm concerned the only problem with aviation, as a career, comes back to that 24 day, seven day week thing. If my job was something like drilling holes in bowling balls, chances are I wouldn't notice how short the days and weeks are. One of the side effects of having The Disease, however, is that it builds on itself and you absolutely can't get enough of it. That's when weeks rattle by like cars on a freight train and the days are too damn short. That's when you start looking for the idiot decision maker who can only count to 24.