Thursday, March 29, 2012

Playing work

"I hope for your sake that when it is time to work, all you do is work. But in those hours when the choice is truly yours, what do you choose to put in front of you? Where do you cast your enraptured eye? Where do you lose yourself? Where do you invest your time, your life and your love, knowing that whatever you pay attention to thrives"? 
- Karen Maezen Miller

"The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him, he is always doing both."
-James A Michener

I have been thinking about work vs. play and work as play.

Spring seems to bring new projects and new possibilities, and they all come together. I currently have five things to work on outside my paid work. One is bigger with a loose structure and deadlines that aren't written in stone, two are kind of flexible (dangerous), and two have very clear, non-negotiable deadlines that are very soon, so I feel the need to actually draw up a schedule and stick to it.

But before I do that, I have a few days in Germany (I am here for a family occasion), which may be procrastination or a much-needed break away from everything. I am always amazed at how the mind works in a different way when we are geographically removed from our usual surroundings. That may be a few kilometers away or on the other side of the world, on a train or on a plane (movement adds yet another level of shaking-up-thoughts).

Typically, whenever I am away from home, I get excited about the future, have lots of ideas, make plans and get impatient that I cannot get started yet. When I return to Ireland, however, that sense of urgency dissipates somewhat and I find myself back to my half-arsed passive approach.

I am not very good at working from home. I need deadlines, but even when I have them (or self-impose them) it often means a short burst of intense work just before the deadline, fuelled by pressure and panic. I am still undecided whether this is simply the way I have always worked and will always work -there are a lot of advocates of this model- or whether I need to force myself to change and gain some serenity and a relaxed attitude in the process.

I have become quite disciplined about Monday afternoons at home drawing, but that's the extent of my strict schedule so far. The main thing for me is to consider work play and bear in mind that I love and enjoy what I do. I feel stressed thinking about it all - and have been stress-eating to match it -, but I also feel blessed. I am lucky in that work and play for me are interchangeable a lot of the time and that I have many of "those hours when the choice is truly [mine]" and filling some of them with work is also filling them with play - and with something I am passionate about.


  1. You said something that is so very true - the mind does work in a different way when we are removed from our usual surroundings! Whenever I am on vacation for instance, I feel more introspective and forward-thinking. It's refreshing to "get away" every once in a while. Great post Marina!

    1. Thank you! "Forward-thinking" is the right word; I tend to think less about the past when away.

  2. Good reminder. I procrastinate, and in turn work at home extends itself into the evening...taking from my own time. Looking forward to my own getaway soon, a perfect preparation ~ reading your offering. Thanks !