A common misconception about being creative is that it’s enjoyable.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Being creative is fun. Creating for a living is work.
No muse appears for a deadline. We’ve just got to sit down and start working.
We won’t get calloused hands, but we’ll probably get repetitive strain injury. Our back won’t break from hauling stones, but it will creak from hours hunched over a table.
Being creative is rarely fun for long.
But it sure as hell is rewarding when you eke out something where there was nothing before — not even the desire to create.
It often seems like the quickest way to get through a long to-do list is to rush through as many things as possible.
The hope is that at the end of a few hours, we can look back at a crossed-off list and feel content.
But the list constantly grows. And the little things turn out to be bigger and more tiresome than we predicted.
By the end of the day, only half the list is ticked, and we’re completely zonked.
On days when I settle for less — just the one big thing — I almost always find that I have the time and the energy to do a few of the small things too.
Settling for less often turns out to be way more productive.
It’s not like we can lie around doing nothing and enjoy it forever.
At least not without spending a lot of money on drugs.
Sure, it’s nice to hit the beach or the lakes and do nothing for a bit. But after a few weeks, a tight emptiness forms in the guts, followed by a dull nagging in the back of the skull: shouldn’t you be doing something with your time?
Maybe some people are lucky enough to be born truly carefree, with no fear of the rapidly approaching Big Nothing. The rest of us have to distract ourselves by doing stuff.
It seems that we work to death one way or another.
May as well do something you enjoy. May as well get really fucking good at it, too.
Maybe then, it will barely be work at all.
A guy at work spent the last year working on one word.
Now he’s going on sabbatical.
Big companies that want to handle other big companies’ data must show that they’re going to look after it properly and protect it from anyone who might be snooping.
This guy at work spent the last year figuring out how to do that — and we are very grateful. The thought of all those painful words and mind-numbing legalese sentences makes me want to weep.
Multiple salaries were invested in the project. Operations were overhauled. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t cheap. But he did it.
All so we could add one little word to our website and become:
That’s one expensive word. One very valuable word.
We’re surrounded by the attentions of others. There are countless little things we take for granted that are the result of a life’s work.
All those things that “just work” when we push the button, work because someone spent their days designing it to work, for us.
What would you do for a dollar a day?
The phrase, “Another day, another dollar,” comes from a time when that was exactly how much a day of your life was worth — if you were lucky.
It was sung while slinging dirt out of the ancient Panamanian soil and hauling on salt-crusted ropes, hundreds of miles away from land.
It was grunted in the dark, forgotten slots of the mines and shouted between the thundering, crashing machines on the workshop floor.
And it’s sighed across cups of thick, lush coffee in sunlight-lanced kitchens as we crack our knuckles, wiggle our toes, and settle down for a few hours talking and typing.
“Dollars for days” is just what we do.
But at least I get to spend these days in my pyjamas.
And the coffee is better, too.
In case you were ever worried about the robots coming you should know that AI won’t take our jobs.
AI will offer us new, better, more interesting work that we’ll enjoy more.
If you told someone back in 1920 we’d have cat psychiatrists, dog masseurs, and a ten-year-old who made millions from unwrapping presents, they’d probably put you in an asylum.
Yet here we are, psychoanalyzing pets and making synchronized dancing videos for cash instead of squeezing down a mine or milking a cow.
Don’t fear the future.
Imagine whatever wild place you want it to be and start walking.
The rest of us will just have to catch up.