A "work ethic" is an interesting instinct. In point of fact, I'm not sure it is a pure instinct. I'm more inclined to believe that the so-called work ethic is as-much-or-more a product of environment than personality. I can't deny that some people just seem more energetic and driven from the moment they spring from their mother's womb--briefcase in hand and tearing the wrist watch from off their delivering doctor--but I also feel that everyone has within them the power, with a little discipline and determination, to say screw that and spend eight straight hours watching a Mythbusters marathon on Bravo.
Not that I speak from personal experience here.
My work ethic has been on my mind a lot lately, what with making curious headway in my professional life as an actor even whilst being dropped from a show and losing my primary source of income. Actors typically, I believe, work some very long and hard hours. They're just hours of constantly changing gears, so it often seems we're not concentrated, or disciplined. It's a little bit like we're each and every one of us a working mother, at least at this particular level. We work our "day job," and while we're at our day job our child (who, by now we hope, is a little more capable of taking care of itself) is in constant contact. We make phone calls on its behalf, we take lunch breaks to visit, or facilitate later time spent with the kid. There are no weekends, no evenings. There are games, and homework, and constant surprises. We feel guilty for not devoting ourselves enough at "work"; we feel guilty for not spending enough time with the boy/girl/meaning-of-our-life.
Take, for example, the pride I take in the post previous to this being my 200th. I feel pride over quantity, which is really nothing more than my work ethic at work. In addition, I feel some guilt. What? Guilt, you say? You mean over the hours you've spent 'blogging that could have been spent ending starvation, or resolving the myriad religious conflicts currently tearing our culture apart at the seams? No. No, I mean I feel guilty over not writing more here. Out of nearly 400 days I could have entries for, I have merely half. Neil Gaiman would shake his tangled locks at me in sheer disappointment.
No: I did not intend to pun there. (Go back. Look. It's there.) I'd rather it were a promised fart joke, but what can I say? There's no escaping genetics.
I'm reading a fantastically enjoyable book about Buster Keaton right now. I can only guess at its accuracy; it seems to have been compiled mostly from interviews of Keaton by the author, and I don't get the sense that said author was in the habit of cross-checking Buster's memory. Still and all, it makes for a great read. Buster Keaton started out just as early as he could get away with in vaudeville, with his family, and by the time he got to films he already had a tremendous amount of skill and experience behind him. From struggling as part of an ambituous family act, to being aprosperous and famous act, to breaking into film and becoming a star, Buster worked like a dog. The only thing that slowed him down was succumbing to alcohol in his middle life, and even through that he was all about the work.
It's hard to make money, do good work and get what you want from life. Maybe even particularly hard for someone living that ol' The Third Life(r). But it's no Depression-Era struggle, or walking away from a broken neck (yeah: he did), so getting down about it can seem pretty silly in perspective.