News from nowhere - short pieces to get you thinking...


We’ve all heard the story of the famous novelist who wrote a great novel in the hours after work. One such writer was Franz Kafka, who, for much of his life worked as an insurance officer for the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute. Here, at his ‘bread job’, as Kafka’s father used to call it, Kafka investigated and processed compensation claims and wrote company reports. It was only in Kafka’s after-work hours that he’d retire to his writing desk and conjure up tales of labyrinths and mystical transformations.

If Franz Kafka were alive today, his ‘bread job’ would also, no doubt, include some kind of ‘wellness’ program - after-work activities that are becoming mandatory in more and more companies. The wellness program might involve a daily session at the gym, some marathon training perhaps, topped off with relaxation techniques - meditation, yoga, massage - to quiet the mind and muscles and prepare his body for early rest. As they say: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise.”

As one ‘workplace wellness’ program puts it in a flyer: “Your employees’ health, and their ability to be productive at work, is largely based on their ‘lifestyle behaviours’, or habits.” The flyer mentions exercise, sleep, and diet as major components in the “productivity” of workers. “For wellness programs to truly affect the bottom line, they need to focus on behaviour change.” Indeed, behaviour change means throwing off old habits in favour of new ones that are better for work, like drinking lots of health tonics and smoothies, exercising, and, of course, being mindful about calories.
But had Kafka been only thinking of his physical wellness in after-work hours, his great literary works - such as The Trial, The Castle and Metamorphosis - would not exist today. Fans of Kafka are indeed grateful that the literary giant used his after-work hours for activities other than obsessing about himself.


From issue #5 of Womankind magazine - click here to subscribe now