It is time to reveal a bit about why am I actually working in a hotel surrounded by mountains, where work and rest are inseparable parts of the same thing called life. Today I want to share my motivations for the type of work I chose to do. And I will tell you how much it matters and why – despite of what I used to believe.
It is now my second time in Lauvitel Lodge, La Danchère. This summer I don’t work quite as many hours as last year, because I also spend a lot of time writing. Even so, I feel that the work here is intense. It is probably a massive cliché what I am going to say, but running a hotel together with a restaurant is not easy business – neither for the owner, nor for the employees. You feel it especially in the middle of a busy day, when you intend to give a friendly and homey vibe to the guests. Make them feel at home and at ease, even if you yourself are feeling tired or annoyed. THAT is not an easy job.
Just the opposite – I find this type of interaction challenging at times. You are at work and they are on holidays. It seems like there must be some kind of barrier between you and them. So your job is basically to overcome this barrier. Because in the end of the day, you are all inhabiting the same space. The Lauvitel Lodge is one big home both for people who work and people who rest here. And this is what makes everyone equal and feeling like we are “on the same page”.
Although, I still have an impression that in many social circles it is commonly accepted that some jobs are more “valuable” than others. That in some of them you have a chance to grow and learn, whereas other ones are just “boulot”, as the French would say. As in, they are hard work that you just have to survive through, but which doesn’t really teach you anything.
In the environment where I grew up and spent most of my life, it was commonly accepted that jobs like cleaner, waiter, receptionist or kitchen assistant are exactly these kind of posts where you just do the dirty work and get nothing from it – well, apart from the money you earn. So this jobs would be considered simply as a means to making a living for the less educated and/or “non-ambitious” people. They would be considered these jobs that a person only does if they don’t have any better option, basically. Or, in a different scenario, it could be a temporary student job. But certainly not a profession which will let you grow.
So coming from this background, it is kind of funny that I find myself in the following circumstances – a girl with a master’s degree from one of the best universities in Poland, working as a bit of all the aforementioned. Receptionist, cleaner, waitress, kitchen assistant. Or in other words – helping to run the Lodge. And I still don’t know whether this is a perfect place for me to be in life, but… in a way it is. And I really don’t think it stands in conflict with my higher education, although I have seen people being surprised or disappointed with my “professional choices”.
Coming into interaction with those people, I indeed started asking myself – what is it in this job that appeals to me more than being in an office and doing “intellectual work”?
First of all… it is the fact that I don’t need to sit in an office. I find it natural and also pleasant to get physically tired after a day of work. To spend time outside in the garden, having beautiful mountains as a background to all activities. Then it is about putting myself “out there” to interact with people spontaneously and in a casual (causal?) way – because there is no other way to interact. Talking about everything and anything with guests of different nationalities, which automatically makes it more interesting. Providing an experience, which is something that ultimately gives me satisfaction – the fact that I can facilitate someone else’s fine experience. And in the circumstances of Lauvitel Lodge it can mean a whole lot of things. Sometimes it is as simple as serving a glass of cold water to a tired walker, and sometimes – beautiful dinner plate full of goodies, prepared by our chef, Kim.
So these are the physical aspects of working here which I enjoy the most. As for the intellectual realm – I really like the fact that it is me who decides whether I remain relaxed and in an almost meditative state of mind, or do I switch to the mode of acquiring new information. I can learn new French words if I take the initiative, but if I don’t – it is alright to stay in the safe pattern of “How can I help you? – Yes, I will bring it to the table. – Thank you, goodbye, have a safe trip back.” I can speak to people and ask about their experiences, or I can choose to mind my own business. I can learn how to manage a new computer system myself, or ask Rik to do it for me. Besides, I can see a lot of space for intellectual growth, learning new things and developing my capacity to think critically outside the working hours. There are lots of books, Internet and very different people coming to the Lodge – these are all my wisdom sources. I really don’t believe that remaining in good intellectual shape depends on the kind of work your do. It depends on how you approach this work.
Finally, there is the whole emotional aspect of working in the Lodge which has helped me grow immensely on the psychological and spiritual level. These are the most interesting areas of life for me anyway and this is where I intend to explore most extensively. So I suspect that’s what attracts me the most in general, in any kind of work I undertake. This is why I chose to work for Epilepsy Scotland two years ago and this is why I am experimenting with freelance work now – to get to know myself better. And here in the Lodge it is not just the work itself that facilitates me in doing that. It is the whole combination of environment, people I spend time with, particular work-life balance and all the other aspects of living and working here.
Yes, this is it. I said “working and living here”, and this phrase is not a random one. Because even though we are all very conscious of the need to make a division between work and rest here, somehow it still seems that the whole experience of the two is integrated. I don’t feel like I am living two separate lives – professional and private. My experience is a whole, which consists of a few main elements – work, rest, socializing, writing, eating. And this integrity is what makes living here so enjoyable, even though sometimes it also feels deadly tiring or stressful.
And coming back to the emotional aspect of life that I experience in La Danchère: it is also the feeling realm that I draw my most important working lessons from. And these lessons are going to be the topic of my next post on conscious work.