“What a useless piece of software!” Mark muttered to himself.

“What’s useless?” George asked.

“Oh um, just this software I’m using to edit this video. It’s an older version and it doesn’t have the shortcuts the new one has, so I have to do a lot of things myself or go slower,” explained Mark.

“Tough luck,” said George.

“Yeah it sucks. I’d have been done by now and busy doing something else.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Catching up on a new series maybe,” Mark answered.

“Oh, was editing this video all the work you had for the day?” asked George.

“There’s another video that needs some graphics added to it, but it’s not due until next week so it can wait,” Mark said.

“If you had the newer software would you get the graphics done now?” asked George.

“Probably, if I got done with editing this video quick enough. But I’d probably just leave work early and head home,” said Mark.

“Yeah I wouldn’t mind doing that either. But then get home and do what?” asked George. 

“Anything really,” said Mark. “There’s this series called Industry I started the other day. I’d probably watch a few episodes. You have a lot of questions today, what’s up?”

“Nothing really, I’m just curious what you get up to when you’re not at work.”

“Not much, I like to chill when I’m not working. Life is already stressful enough, I have to take advantage of any free time I have.”

“Why not get some more work done while you still can?” George asked. “Like today, why not complete the work that’s pending and maybe save the series for later?”

“All work and no play makes Mark a dull boy,” said Mark. “The work will still get done. I work smart.”

“Not hard?” asked George

 “Not always,” answered Mark. “I don’t think that’s good for your mental health.”

“Life is meant to be enjoyed.”

“Maybe so, but what’s wrong with working smart and hard at the same time?” asked George.

“There’s more to life than just work, man,” Mark said.  “You only live once you know.”

“That’s true,” George said, “but I’m not sure it’s meant to be enjoyed all the time.”

“What do you mean?” asked Mark.

“I think it’s just the nature of life,” answered George. “Life is full of struggles and challenges everyone has to face. It can’t be all fun and games. I mean it would be ideal, but it just isn’t possible unless you live in a bubble.”

“And what’s wrong with living in a bubble?” demanded Mark. “What’s wrong with living life on your own terms? Wouldn’t you be better off for it?”

“I’m not sure you would be,” said George. “I guess you’d have an easier life, but on the whole, I’m not sure you’d be better off. We all share the earth with each other, and the world works the way it does because of all our little individual contributions to it. If we’re all only looking out for ourselves, won’t the world suffer for it?”

“I think you’re making it more serious than it is,” said Mark.

“I don’t think so,” stated George. “I think it’s important to work hard as often as we can. Work isn’t just so we can collect a salary at the end of the month and go on holiday to Diani. We also need to get stuff done so we can progress and get further as a society, so life itself can become easier and more convenient.”

“Maybe,” thought Mark. “But I still don’t think life should be all about work. There’s so many stories of people dying of stress because of overworking themselves, or committing suicide because work had taken over their lives. There has to be a balance.”

“You’re right, there definitely has to be a balance,” said George. “But each side needs to be taken seriously. I think sometimes we may take either side too seriously.”

“Isn’t that what I’m saying?”

“Yes, I just mean that it’s like the soft life is like the bare minimum for people these days. I mean, sure, everyone aspires to a life of luxury and ease. A life where being pampered and spoiled are the norm, and where minor inconveniences and annoyances do not exist. That life sounds fantastic, and I’m sure at first it would be. But what if it isn’t all that it’s made out to be? What if it should be more a consequence rather than a result? Of course, everyone would desire the soft life. But should we aspire to it?

“I think we definitely should,” Mark said.

We’re not in this life to suffer.”

“Let me ask you something: what is the soft life in the first place? Like, how do we even define it? What does it look like? The soft life we know looks extremely appealing at face value. To add to that, it’s been made even more desirable and popular by celebrities and social media. There’s nothing wrong with luxury. But the pursuit of it at all costs and the abhorrence of harder, more unpleasant but possibly mundane parts of life I think is worrisome. I have this nagging feeling that the pursuit of it may not be good for us in the long run.”

“How exactly would it not be good for us?”

“For a while, there’s been talk of working smarter, not harder. I’m not sure I agree. I think we should work smarter to work even harder. Not that we should drive ourselves to the ground, but hard work gets results. They may be the wrong results, but they are results nonetheless. And at least we can learn from them and work harder next time to do the right thing.

“Where will the world end up if all of us are taking holidays all the time, at the same time? When will anything ever get done? Stress, discomfort and challenges are important for us. Progress and growth never happened as a result of chilling out and avoiding challenges. Not to sound cliché, but diamonds are formed through pressure.”

Mark stared at George for a long time without saying anything. George found maintaining eye contact uncomfortable, so he didn’t return the stare. He turned to his computer and went back to work, wondering what the blank look on Mark’s face and the stare meant. After a while, Mark turned to his own computer, but just sat there staring at the screen. Then after a few minutes, he reached for the mouse and began aimlessly moving it around, watching the cursor move on the screen.

After what seemed like an eternity, George heard him speak. “I think you’re onto something, but I think it’s important not to get caught up in going forward,” he said. “Sometimes we need to live for the moment and let it take us where it will, otherwise we might miss some of the thrills life has for us. We need to enjoy life too.”

He turned to Mark as he finished speaking, a small smile tugging at the corners of his lips. Mark returned the smile. “We do,” Mark replied. “But maybe we can enjoy the struggle too, or find a way or reasons to enjoy it.”

What do you think, dear reader? Are you sold on the soft life?