Our society is set up on a 24 hour cycle today.
Unavoidable? Some argue, yes. Others would argue, no.
In our past, humans rose for the day to prepare. We hunted. We gathered. We pooled resources. We shared what we pooled to meet basic, safety and security needs for individuals. Those basic needs being, food, clothes. shelter, and water.
The overall hunter-gather lifestyle fulfilled the human need for socialization.
We formed families. Families formed tribes. Tribes formed community.
All interacted in a cohesive way to support the life for both the individual and for the collective.
Hunting and Gathering is now called 'Work' or 'Vocation'
Today, we need to work, to get the money we need. We use the money we earn for our labour to buy food, clothes, and to pay for our shelter. Our water comes in bottles, and we spend most of our day without our family, socializing with people we work with in a tribe we call today the workplace.
The workplace is, for the most part, a competitive environment. Too many workplaces deny cooperation. We don't share there. We've a hierarchy in that tribe where we assign value to one-another.
Those at the top make the most money, the money that's replaced the acts of hunting and gathering.
As we move down the line in the hierarchy, those others in the tribe we call workplace earn less and less.
What was once, perhaps, at most, a twelve hour day for each member of a tribe, has morphed in the society into the 24 hour cycle we live-by today.
My old work-life was in the role of a paramedic. In First Responder work, we need, to support the society and to keep society safe, secure, and to have folks available to intervene in times of trouble, a structure that includes the unavoidable necessity of shift work.
In rural First Responder work, we have people living with alarms ready, for some, to wake them with a start at home. An alarm that gets minimally-paid volunteers out of bed quickly, into their vehicles in order for these workers to get to us in time often to save our lives in the middle of the night when we might find ourselves in some kind of unexpected trouble.
Full time folks in this industry work four days on and four days off often. They work 12 hour shifts, switching themselves off-and-on in patterns of working two days-two nights, with four days off to recover in preparation to do it all again.
Need for overtime, unfortunately, often leads to one not having that recovery time to prepare for a next tour in the four-on/four-off cycle.
Caregiver work is on similar cycles, in social services and health-care professional workplace environments.
Other lines of work too need shift work to get all done that's been determined needs doing.
Unavoidable. It is what it is.
I'm growing to learn the value in adopting a radical acceptance of current reality as means to protect my own still-fragile mental and emotional health.
We once hunted and gathered to meet basic needs. Today we work for money to do the same, and that has spawned the need for shift-work, there's really right now no way to avoid it that I can see.
We didn't live long lives in our past mind you. So we hunted, gathered, cooperated, and really, due to disease and often physical injury, died quite young.
Life expectancy due to advancements made in medicine and the like has risen quite dramatically.
In the past, many died long before 65.
In our world today we live well beyond that. We retire from the workplace tribe around that age today. So to then live the life of Riley that we've longed for across our work-life as adult humans.
Some make it all the way. Others not.
It's being reported lately that for now years in a row in North America, specifically in the United States, that life-Expectancy is now in decline.
Something, perhaps, to think about for a future share of my own writing.
Why do we work?
We have to work. It's how we get our bread and our butter for that bread today. It's how we put clothes on our back. It's how we cover costs for shelter, heat, water, and light when we need it.
We work too for that second home, a summer home perhaps. We work to buy boats, snow-machines and the like. We work for many other toys we need to entertain ourselves with.
We work to meet needs for survival and we work to fulfill other desires, whatever those desires might be.
If our work pays little, or not enough to meet our desires?
We're willing to go into debt to get those things, working then, too, to pay others back for what they've passed on to us to use to buy those things we think we need beyond our survival needs once met by hunting and gathering.
That's no sin, mind you. It's how we live today. Escaping from such desires is difficult. It is the life of a Monk today to live with only basic needs in mind.
If our work pays enough to sustain the human in a tribe all the way through all needs and desires?
We work, we buy, we use what we buy. We work, we buy, we use what we buy, and round it goes until 65 when we hope to then be able to stop, but few really do.
What's replaced hunting and gathering?
Consumerism. Economy. Money.
Work becomes part of what we each do to fit-into a place of functioning in a machine (society). We work to keep the societal machine running. For some of us, we've found a calling doing so, and we hope to enjoy our time in our work, as it's become the central focus for us of practically every day.
To keep it all running leads to need for 24 hour work cycles.
Shift work is then, near across the board, unavoidable, contrary to those naysayers who might wish to argue otherwise.
Radical Acceptance of Reality.
What does Shift Work lay upon the human animal, however, to contend with?
Risks of ill-health, unless we're willing to manage ourselves on a pretty strict regime and personally constructed time-table.
Missing the need to ensure our own self-care, with shift-work now in play in a 24 hour work-cycle, can lead to some pretty serious problems for us if we go along to get along in the world we live in, not examining ourselves to stay in touch with development of some perhaps negative outcomes.
Sleep deprivation. Circadian Rhythm imbalance. Physical health deterioration and, for some, mental health demise is the most tragic of all impacts of the negative outcomes that can take rise.
No longer being hunter-gathers has leveled some additional stressors upon the human organism that takes a toll on the central-nervous system, if we leave ourselves living a work-engaged, otherwise mismanaged human-life.
Regardless of all that our so-called advanced society imposes upon us as we've lost our ways of hunting, gathering, and sharing together, replacing that with the work-lives we live today, basically to do the same thing, but with competition with one another and layer-upon-layer of desires thrown into the mix:
We are the same human-animals today as we were not that long ago.
In Canada, our Indigenous Peoples only recently lost the hunter-gathering, egalitarian lives they lived when Europeans showed up here around 500 years ago. The Indigenous Peoples of Canada, it's now known, have lived on this land for thousands of years, living prior to contact with Europeans the hunter-gatherer, egalitarian life-style.
Europeans brought with them the new ways of working for money to take care of needs. There were less desires thrown in back then from the average souls. For those Elites from Europe who came to exploit the resources found, those desires were of course more, or less, depending on status and levels of wealth.
When did the need for shift work come into play in Canada?
I really don't know. It seems it's always been. My Dad was a mill-worker, and although he worked mostly 8am-5pm, I recall, as well, that he worked a variety of shifts over his short life before cancer took him away from us so young.
We're stuck with the 24 hour work-cycle. It's how we live today to fulfill our needs and desires with money.
Can't live with it?
Can't live without it, frankly. It's as simple as that, at least in this society for now.
Are you working long hours?
Are you one of many who work the necessity of shift-work in our society today?
How much quality sleep are you getting, keeping yourself running as a cog in the over-all machine that is society today?
What are the estimates determined by health professionals that the average human needs in regards to sleep?
I've gone on long enough, so please, read this, for a deeper reflection on human needs relative to sleep:
What else do we need in our advanced ways of living today to ensure our best shot at a long and happy life?
Over-all, as well, we need to learn about Work/Life Balance:
This is what we need today to keep the human brain, over-all, as healthy as it can be. We need an understanding of The Six Pillars of Brain Health:
It's pretty clear:
We're no longer hunter-gathers today.
We're competitors seeking money to pay for our life and for living.
It seems we're stuck with that.
As we work, therefore, we're wise to ensure balance.
As is my daily prayer for us all, and I share this as perhaps something to think about to ensure we can together:
For some deeper reflection, I recommend viewing the following film from National Geographic, and listening to an excerpt from this talk from Dr. Gabor Mate:
Darren Gregory: The Trauma Recovery Blog
Photos: Mic and ThoughtCo.
Thank-You to Badge-of-Life Canada for the Writing Prompt
Disclaimer: These materials and resources are presented for educational purposes only. They are not a substitute for informed medical advice or training. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified health or mental health care provider. If you have concerns, contact your health care provider, mental health professional, or your community health centre.
Darren Gregory © 2018. All Rights Reserved
Certified: Community & Workplace Trauma Educator Traumatology Institute.
Associate Member American Academy Of Experts In Traumatic Stress.