Shane Newman examines the hidden brain button in our constant efforts to maintain a work-life balance. Flick the switch and we are launched into a free world of adventure at a moment’s notice…


This ascent isn’t an easy one, it just won’t fucking let up and the mud isn’t making it any easier. The light is fading fast & my headlamp is buried deep in my pack (which is far too heavy and only getting heavier). I’m worried that if I stop, my legs will cramp and I have no reason to stop, I ran out of water hours ago… I was sure I’d find a stream running down here somewhere…

It’s now 6 pm, Sunday evening, I’m in my room with the heater on, surrounded by pillows that just 24 hours ago I would have paid anything for & soon I’ll doze off, only to be woken on Monday morning by the sound of my alarm. The switch has flicked back quickly.

Monday, back to the world of emails & sales calls, timed lunch & sneaky coffee breaks… the only remnants of the weekend are my aching muscles and a beard that smells vaguely of a campfire. But this world is different, it keeps my mind sharp.

I share my stories of the weekend with co-workers throughout the day, who question my sanity when they call me crazy but I find satisfaction in knowing I can do something that they never would.

This world of business-fashion provides a stark contrast to that of the weekend past.

By Thursday my mind is wandering.

I can’t concentrate on a simple task. I open the world wide web of inspiration to flick the switch back for just a moment & see what my friends of out-there have been up to. But it’s not enough and soon I’ll run to the outdoors again where I will find these friends. Friends who don’t define themselves by their titles, diet or which team they barrack for. The outdoors is a great equaliser of people in that sense & it quickly weeds out the weak…as for the lazy, I wouldn’t even think of inviting them in the first place.

The surplus of luxuries I find in the city will quickly fade away on my weekend, where the simplicity of finding drinkable water is enough to elate me.

Don’t get me wrong, I find time in my home-box & work-box comforting, I like my coffee made just so & I’m subconsciously taught in my work to judge people on what they wear. But the darkness that surrounds the campfire can cleanse me of these evils in a heartbeat. Exploration is a wise old teacher in that way.

I don’t hate the other side…

For now it helps keep me more than sane, it keeps me sharp. But the question keeps tugging at my shirt sleeve, do I need this kind of work-life balance? Could I find a work-life balance that represents one close to that of my weekend. A life of pleasure and pain?

It’s something I’ll continue to think on. But for now, whichever way the switch is flicked, I’m happy to have a present worth remembering.

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