52projects and Ikiru

I regularly visit Cynthia Morris’ Original Impulse blog because I love her writing and her coaching. I won a Daily Impulse Writing competition last summer and got the chance to talk to her on the phone for a few complimentary coaching sessions and it was the best experience ever!

Anyway, she’s always discovering interesting websites and passing them along to her audience. Recently, she mentioned www.52projects.com, so I had to investigate.

I’m not sure I support some of the author’s suggestions (like using work time for play time, calling in sick to take advantage of holiday weekends, things like that), but I did like him enough to get his book from the library.

And I did one project last weekend: write down how you feel about your job, all the good things and the bad things. Then watch the Japanese film, Ikiru, and write it down again.

The film was like a train wreck from which you can’t look away. It was horribly Japanese – overly dramatic, drawn-out (almost 3 hours, if I recall correctly), and just weird. But the cinematography was haunting and the point was poignant.

The main character learns that he has stomach cancer and six months to live after wasting thirty years as a city clerk doing just enough to get by, partly because it was all that was expected from his superiors and partly because he had become numb from the low expectations over the years.

When the mothers in the community come to the clerk’s office for help with a sewage problem in their neighborhood, they are given the typical bureaucratic run-around and get stuck in the mire, literally.

In the end, the man decides to forge ahead and do whatever it takes to fix their problem, regardless of the nonsensical bureaucratic loop. He ends up, not only fixing the issue, but building a park for the community children as well.

Loud and clear. We can make a difference. We all have what it takes to rise above status quo and arbitrary rules. Unfortunately, sometimes, it takes knowing we are going to die to start living.

How did I feel before and how do I feel now?

Before: Tedium. Just a couple of IT attitudes. The rudest of the rude cubicle dwellers love me.

After: I could be focusing on what's important to me. I could be helping and initiating more. And I could be doing something more rewarding, more contributory and participatory.

I didn’t need a Japanese movie to tell me that.