I recently spoke to a friend who seemed to have reached the pinnacle of material success for their age and education level, having worked for a time at one of the most high-profile companies in the United States. Traditional wisdom states that a high paying job at a prestigious corporate company will bring you an equal amount of joy and contentment. And yet, there was my successful friend asking me, “What is the point of working hard, making money, and being tired at the end of the day if it’s not for something you care about?”
I think we, as a society, have mistaken money and material success as the source of joy, rather than the value or meaning at the center which generates the numbers. Allow me to explain…
Say I have two jobs; one working for a bank selling loans, and the other a freelance SAT tutoring business. The first job has me generating profit for a company and leadership that I will likely never know, and the other has me sharing a skill directly with those in my community. At the end of each shift, I walk away tired with $100, giving me a total of $200. The question is, are those two separate checks, though equal in material value, equal in the purpose and meaning I gained from them?
We are living in a time where everything from our communication to our education has been commercialized. Perhaps to speak to your old friend you might go through a third-party app rather than calling them up directly. Perhaps you wish to acquire a degree, in which case you might give thousands of dollars to an institution which will forget your name the moment you walk across a stage to accept your roll of paper which states, “credibility gained”. There is a sense of separation from the tight-knit community that seemed so widespread only a few decades ago. This is not to say that these spaces do not have their own value. I only mean that where there is disconnect, there is an opportunity to reconnect and find value.
So, here we find ourselves, brothers with long histories of interest in English, often looked to for writing advise and critique, feeling as if we have a skill to share and an opportunity to build a creative space in a time when the traditional path provides little personal meaning. At the foundation of ZtoA Press is the desire to create something of value from the ground up.