Mike scott of the waterboys put it beautifully when he sang "I wish I was a fisherman". Because the fisherman has the ultimate rewarding life, not just from having the wind in his hair and the freedom of the seas, but also in the unique ability to measure, at the end of each day, the success of his labours. They put your catch on the weighing scales, you look at the number, and how good a job you've done is there for all to see.
It's weeks like the past one that makes me, and many of my friends, thankful for what we have [Michael's close friend Niall McCrudden sadly passed away]. Happiness is an undervalued commodity, and most tragic of all is that you can have the things that should make you happy, but not have the capacity to enjoy them. I'm one of the lucky ones, because one of the things that makes me happy is a job that I love.
So many people take their work for granted, considering it to be just a necessary chore to generate enough money to enjoy the rest of their life. But if you add up your waking hours, the majority of them are spent at work, so it's always baffled me why people place so little importance on being happily employed, rather than just being gainfully so.
We can't, admittedly, all be professional golfers. We can't all, metaphorically, turn up to the first tee, and be greeted by a round of applause before we actually do anything. At the only golf tournament I've ever been to, I was astonished at how golfers are treated. They hit a ball, walk up to where it landed and, as they approach it, the audience breaks into spontaneous applause, which the player acknowledges by doffing his cap.
Imagine the equivalent in an office environment -- every time you walk into a room, your staff stand up and clap in unison, both as a mark of respect for the position you've reached in your profession, and as an ongoing thank you for the opportunities you've given them. It's a nice thought...
Most of us, however, get no such feedback. So many people lead invisible lives, handing out, promoting, buying and selling intangible products, yawning and clock-watching their way through the day as they gaze at a computer screen. It's not just the joy that's being taken out of life, it's even the most basic human interaction. Banks, supermarkets and retailers are furiously trying to drive all their customers online, so they don't have to deal with the general public and their tedious, time-consuming demands for cash, trimmed meat and clothes that actually fit.
A couple of days ago, I gave a speech under the title 'Magazines are dead, long live the internet'. Unfettered by the burden of evidence, I spoke about magazines, the joy of producing them, the chats with your fellow workers, the feel of them in your hand, and the satisfaction of seeing someone reading your work in a coffee shop. They may be dying, but give me a fulfilling, exhilarating, roller-coaster of a headlong charge towards death any day of the week over the alternative, as suggested by the bleak, dreary life of the soulless internet.
Though my trawler may be an orange sports car, my waterproof overalls a D&G suit, and my trays of fresh halibut a bundle of glossy magazines, I am that fisherman, tumbling through the seas, with light in my hair...
Michael O'Doherty is the publisher of the VIP magazine group