The sun has just risen. Just past the sleeping head of Amadeus, the world’s fluffiest cat, I can see the gold spilling over my town out the window.
My hands are still warm from the cup of tea. I pull them over to the keyboard where they rest. I can feel the two little bumps that tell me where “j” and “k” are. Curves of each key caress the pads on my fingers.
Slowly the music starts. A click of a first letter, followed by the patter of a short sentence. A pause, while I collect my thoughts. Then, back in. The words come quickly now, with quiet taps of letters punctuated by aggressive slaps on the space bar. It’s as if snow is falling on my keyboard.
A paragraph break is an avalanche.
I love it all — the smell of the tea, the sound of the keys, the sensation of pressing hard on a punctuation at sentence end.
When I’m writing, I wonder: “why can’t it always be this simple?”
Recently I ran across a passage by Annie Dillard that nearly brought me to tears. It mirrored how I feel about my work on the best days.
“I once asked a joyful painter how he became a painter.
He said: ‘I liked the smell of paint.’”
THE SMELL OF PAINT. Can you imagine a more wonderful career indicator? It’s impossible to miss what things are not are not present in the painter’s professional pointer.
- A deep search for meaning
- A StrengthFinder, Enneagram, or DiSC Workplace assessment
- A career coach
- A workplace salary report
- A standardized test
We rely on thought in this era. It’s easy to forget there other options.
Like asking this question — “do you enjoy what you actually do day to day?”
Everyone goes through the motions. Maybe the better question to ask is “which motions do I want to be going through?” No matter your profession, you will use similar raw materials and perform similar movements day in and day out. In addition to the intellectual connection with your work, you must have a kinetic connection.
Here are Austin Kleon’s thoughts:
“More and more I think that our work — and happiness in our work — is to be found in not only identifying our material, but thinking of it as actual, tangible material that you can see and and hear and touch and smell and even taste and manipulate with your hands.
An artist has to have a kind of sensual relationship with her material. She has to find material she can fall in love with.
We get too big with our career questions:
“What do I want to be when I grow up?”
What a dumb question. As if a state of being is somehow achieved without doing. Why not instead ask yourself what you wants to do? What physical motions do you enjoy? Can you even sit at a desk? Do you even care about numbers?
Don’t ask your brain what you should do for a living. Ask your body instead.
It knows more than you think.