The Thing I Like About …

… Wally from Dilbert:  He doesn’t care.

Anyone who’s read Dilbert – or worked in an office – is familiar with Wally (and/or his ilk).  He’s the one who’s completely jaded, who’s been there long enough and who’s smart enough that he knows how to do everything … and has found a way to do absolutely none of it.  He’s the one who gets paid to do nothing at all, and his work gets fobbed off on others whose work ethic is actually existent.  In real life, no one likes the Wally of the office (or restaurant, or outfit, or operation, or what-have-you), but in Dilbert he’s one of the funniest characters – and, in a certain context, the most inspirational.

Is that because I wish I could get paid without working?  Maybe sometimes (don’t we all?), but I wouldn’t like the part where someone else was burdened with my responsibilities – it would definitely suck the joy out of my laziness.  No, I find Wally inspirational in his attitude about “ego”.

Wally doesn’t care if he gets accolades.  He doesn’t care if people think he’s the best or the worst.  He doesn’t care if he accomplishes a certain amount of stuff by a certain time.  He doesn’t care if people think he’s lazy, or stupid, or wrong.  He just lives his life the way he wants to, and he’s content.

This can be a bad thing when the way he wants to live his life is by sponging off the hard work and success of his colleagues, but in the real world, it can be a very good thing – people spend so much of their precious time dwelling on the all the things they “have” to do, on getting something done quickly to make some sort of point to some unknown scheduling deity, on filling arbitrary quotas, on “getting ahead” in a game that has no clear finish line or prize.  People make themselves crazy competing with arbitrary standards of success, of appearance, of wealth, and in the end it won’t matter who or what they’re “better” than, because the ones they’re competing against are far too busy making themselves crazy to notice the others who are doing it too. People spend years working themselves to the bone – sometimes literally to death – to achieve … what, exactly?  Do people even bother to decide anymore what they want for themselves? – because it seems more and more like people are just doing what they think is expected of them, what they think will make them better than someone else, what they think they’re supposed to do…rushing here and rushing there in pursuit of things they can’t quantify and feeling vaguely dissatisfied at best.

In the real world, Wally is non-viable (or at least undesirable); a real-world Wally’s actions are often not just burdensome but actually hurtful to the people who pick up the slack for him.  But Dilbert’s Wally is an important counterpoint to the need to see ourselves through others’ eyes, and to the need to forego our own happiness in search of what makes other people happy.

At least in that regard – in the place where we are true to ourselves and do what’s best for us – maybe we should all be a little more like Wally.

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