It’s a strange thing if you find that the job you would like to have no longer exists in the modern era. I would have liked to be an apothecary. Now the modern equivalent would be a chemist or pharmacist who dispenses mass produced drugs and doesn’t go out cloaked in the moonlight of the small hours to pick herbs to brew into home made remedies. I guess a closer equivalent to an apothecary would be a naturopath or some sort, such as a homeopath. However, such a person would still rarely make up the medicines themselves but would order them from a company who obtained them from a factory.
If you examine what underlies what I have said you will see that it is really a comment on industrialisation and how we have lost a link to both what we create and the fruits of our labours. Before every house would have had its own cottage cheese. Now most of our food is mass produced. (Interestingly enough there seems to be an increase in my area of people running their own small baking businesses from home as we come to tire of mass produced, processed food.) Some might say that we are entering a new, post industrial age where you might imagine we have more freedom due to more sophisticated technology. However all the technology we have available to us actually has the effect of allowing us to get more done in the same time rather than to give us more free time. So for example, in the past we might have seen a room of 12 typists in a company. Because every time you made a mistake you had to retype the whole page. You could not save documents as we do now. But now, with all the software and hardware which make a typist’s work much easier, instead of seeing those 12 typists work ONE hour instead of EIGHT and then go and sit on the beach you will see 1 secretary doing the work of 12 and probably working longer hours than they did. Food is quicker to prepare because we obtain it at a further stage (e.g. bread rather than flour rather than sheaves of wheat), but we live in smaller family units and fail to achieve the time economies of scale (e.g. if you cook for 4 it is not half the time of cooking for 8 – better to cook for 8 every other day than 4 every day, but few of us do. I try to get around this by making more and freezing it). As many tasks are quicker to complete we try, instead of spending less time on them, to get more tasks done – or are forced to do so by the boss – instead of creating space for ourselves. It’s actually akin to how life was in Red Queen’s country.
“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”
“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
We live in Red Queen’s country. Do you not think?
(Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, 1871)