Posted in The Now


When I look at the garden and think about how much work I put into it – how much time and sweat and love – I don’t think, “Well, garden, you owe me big time.” I just look at the way it’s responding and am rewarded by, well, for lack of some less hokey concept, by it’s Goodness. I’m training my small area of nature to behave in such a way that pleases me, in the context of having some area of domesticated Nature to enjoy while living in the middle of a large, industrialized urban complex.

It’s fake, see. The manicured yard, the garden, these are rewards in themselves whether we see them as such or as a burden of task. Being able to enjoy nature while deep inside urbanity is a reminder of who we are, where we come from, and oh, the Big Picture and all of that. We are animals. We are of that, not this industrial thing. (You didn’t come into this world.  You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean.  You are not a stranger here.  – Alan Watts).

Yesterday I was angry when I realized my job does not provide me (in my own estimation) with proper compensation. This is ON ME. I know this. My thesis was that my job owes me more “something” because I’m doing a ton of work that lies outside of the scope of what I was hired to do.

One of the teachers I work with his come to me with this same complaint but framing in such a way that Compensation must be equal to the Energy invested, meaning: sometimes students provide positive feedback, and their success, their interest, their positive energy provides me with Compensation in the form of Personal Satisfaction; when this is the case, the teacher tells me, then they don’t mind the crappy pay. It equals out. This same teacher came to me the next semester to say that his students were not paying attention – they were behaving with entitlement, not putting in The Work, and generally under-performing. Therefore, the teacher was debating whether or not to return the following semester because the Compensation was not in balance.

I know it’s a luxury for me to be able to go to my boss and make this same argument about my own work. But the fact is, I love what I do, and if I premise my argument with genuine concern, I have nothing to lose. It’s not a threat if you state facts, and I have the choice, should I want, to leave.

We try to make our Work into something it’s not. The closer we get to doing something we love, the closer our Work is to our passion, and that line between “I guess I have to go to work now” and “I get to be done with work now” gets blurrier. SO my argument today will be along those lines, when I go speak to my supervisor, and the emotion behind this will not be anger, but Truth. I can’t lose because our meeting won’t be a challenge to either of us. (There is the possibility of being totally misunderstood, but that’s always a risk).

I looked to Emerson for guidance and read through his “Compensation” essay. It’s not what I expected. Some interpretations explain this Essay (wrongly) as Emerson’s take on “You Reap What You Sow,” but that’s not what he’s saying. All through the Essay he keeps talking about Duality: “Every act rewards itself, or, in other words, integrates itself, in a twofold manner; first, in the thing, or in real nature; and secondly, in the circumstance, or in apparent nature.” When he goes further into this by example, he’s not saying that if you do Good, you’ll get something Good.

He’s saying that inside every act is the nature of both directions, Good and Bad, or what have you. They are the same, and so characterizing your actions, or characterizing those things which happen to you as somehow inherently Good or Bad is not exactly how Compensation is set up. That’s too simple. He is saying that “All love is mathematically just, as much as the two sides of an algebraic equation,” but also, “There is a deeper fact in the soul than compensation, to wit, its own nature.

SO, before I get too further tangled up in this, I’m just saying that while I sometimes feel unjustly Compensated while At Work, I come home to do some gardening and do not feel like the Garden owes me for unrequited labor. I’m taking some of that feeling in to my Supervisor’s office today, and if they don’t see it the way I think they should, I’m still good. I’ll keep open to other possibilities in the other people I work with, trusting that Emerson is on to something here.

I’ll leave his closing paragraph here:

And yet the compensations of calamity are made apparent to the understanding also, after long intervals of time. A fever, a mutilation, a cruel disappointment, a loss of wealth, a loss of friends, seems at the moment unpaid loss, and unpayable. But the sure years reveal the deep remedial force that underlies all facts. The death of a dear friend, wife, brother, lover, which seemed nothing but privation, somewhat later assumes the aspect of a guide or genius; for it commonly operates revolutions in our way of life, terminates an epoch of infancy or of youth which was waiting to be closed, breaks up a wonted occupation, or a household, or style of living, and allows the formation of new ones more friendly to the growth of character. It permits or constrains the formation of new acquaintances, and the reception of new influences that prove of the first importance to the next years; and the man or woman who would have remained a sunny garden-flower, with no room for its roots and too much sunshine for its head, by the falling of the walls and the neglect of the gardener, is made the banian of the forest, yielding shade and fruit to wide neighbourhoods of men.”

And this:






Graphic designer / project manager / gardener living in Denver, Colorado.

2 thoughts on “Compensation

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