Pondering the meaning of work

I've never been so confused about the definition of work in my life.

Don't get me wrong, I've had steady jobs since I was 14. Yet up until now, my work has been measured in hours. An hour at a coffee shop, an hour as a waitress or hostess, or an hour spent teaching as a camp counselor, outdoor education instructor and then a teacher. When you are in front of kids for an hour, there's no ifs, ands, or buts about whether or not you are really working.

Now I have this job where I have an incredible amount of work, but my time and location is sometimes my own to control. For example, today in Los Angeles, I'm working from home. I'm not in the office, but I'm answering emails, making phone calls, and working on projects. Does that mean I'm working? I'm not in meetings, I'm not providing instruction and I'm not present and accounted for in an office.

I constantly have more and more to do and work can be done from home at any point. I have spent a considerable amount of time envying my friend who works in a state prison as a therapist because she legally CANNOT take any work home. Can you imagine? (Totally not trying to underestimate how difficult her job is :). Yet seriously, can you imagine someone stopping you on the way out and saying, "Oh no you don't! You legally can't take that work home!!"

Often in my new job I have days completely filled with meetings rather than days completely filled with hours of teaching. That baffles me too, since I come from a profession where meetings would have to take 20 minutes in-between classes, and decisions had to be made immediately. Now I have meetings that often last for two hours before a decision is made. 

I often envy those who work from a computer and can be location independent. It sounds very cool and glamorous to me to be able to set a schedule and be able to work essentially anywhere that has internet. Yet I know I would miss the interaction with adults, kids and yes, even the long meetings.

I guess at some point in this new era, everyone has to create their vision of what they want their job to be. I'm still trying to figure that out. For today, I am loving my office.