“Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career, you have a life.” – Cheryl Strayed
“Cease to be a drudge, seek to be an artist.” – Mary McLeod Bethune
“I knew I had been transformed, moved by the revelation that human beings create art, that to be an artist was to see what others could not.” – Patti Smith
Today is a Friday. which in the world of work means something to the majority of people making a living. Back in the day, Thursday and Friday night meant having a few drinks after work to wait out the traffic, commiserate about the grind suffered in earnest that week, and to talk of plans for the weekend.
I’m done climbing that particular ladder. But I haven’t quite weened myself off being a drudge. But I fight and cajole myself towards some measure of artistry. Admittedly, it’s an odd place to reside. I know people who delight in their drudgery and shun artistry. I find that they live the rest of their lives in a similar fashion.
We’ve built this social structure where taking one for the team and being a cog is celebrated. Cheryl Strayed is right to point out that your career is merely a part of your life, but it’s a big part. Aren’t we obligated to rise above the grind? We all know salespeople and engineers and accountants who spin delightful work out of what others might view as drudgery. Life is what you make of it, and so is your career. You can and should create beautiful art in your daily work.
I’m particularly excited about a couple of projects I’m working on in my career. I’d like to weave a bit more art into each, and really, that ambition to raise the project to a level above the norm is where artists begin their work day. So what if it’s a sculpture or a PowerPoint presentation; make it beautiful.
Our short, fragile lives are built on whimsy and chance and a bit of gumption. So why succumb to drudgery? Why not begin a notch or two above the norm and see how much you can stretch yourself? To dance in the gap between drudgery and art is to lift yourself beyond a job or a task to a place where the beautiful and noteworthy begins.