Look Back

About a year ago I sat drinking coffee at the Rock ‘N Joe coffeehouse in Millburn, NJ, contemplating what I would write in my first blog post. I was inches from launching my own blog site, a step I took to help me create of a new line of work. Looking Back

I remember these small, jeweled images from the coffeehouse: the window seat across from the counter, the caramel latte and chocolate biscotti, the small pink notebook I scribbled my notes in, the early afternoon light warming a gunmetal grey car parked on the street. They hollowed a deep imprint of moments that appeared before I stepped into a new space. The imprint brings me a clear, single feeling, happiness.

Such a simple, basic feeling, this happiness. But it was so strange for me to associate happiness with work. Work for me had always been, well, work. Toil, effort and, hopefully, triumph. Satisfaction comes later, happiness is delayed. Happy moments occurred, mostly accidental, as an adjunct to the work. They were not central to work itself.

It always intrigued me, though, this dream of not just being happy at work but being happy in work. I’d spent many hours reading religious and philosophical texts about the purpose of work, the value of work, the joy of work. Sometimes I’d move straight into ideas that freely expounded the notion that good work, done well, is pleasure itself. Always a sideline in actuality, this idea of work marrying pleasure in real life.

I never lost track of this desire to meld pleasure and work, to make my living joyfully. It was an idea dug in. So when I sat in the coffeehouse scribbling notes and thinking about the blog launch, I knew that what I was feeling was what I wanted to keep. Even the occasional drudgery of a forced deadline this past year has felt good. I kept to my desire.

I started DailyWorkLife because I wanted to talk about the experience of work. This kind of exploration makes me happy. It also fills what I realize, one year in, as an obligation to my father. My father died when I was 24 years old. He was a man carrying around a dense sack of unfulfilled promise. He was smart, witty, interested in words. He made his way out of factory-town poverty via a war and was given a chance to advance his life in ways he could never have planned for as a child. He wanted to be a man of words and ideas. He found himself a man of unfulfilled promise, believing in a corporate and life structure that gave him income but little respect. I knew of his disappointments, his little daily diminishments, the ones he kept veiled expertly, leaving small traces of defeat in his eyes.

It was during my formative years that I started reading about work; big works by essayists and philosophers, drenched in 20th century fatalism and hope for humanity. The distance between what I wanted to be true and what I saw in my childhood home was too much to reconcile for a long time. Only after his death, and years after I came to put his experience in context with my own, was I able to understand how much the experience of work sticks with people. How it can create and destroy. Most importantly, though, how you have to put it into your own context, not the other way around.

I look back at the past year of DailyWorkLife with satisfaction. Scratch that, with happiness. It is coming into its own, with over 1,600 users and 2,500 sessions. The goal I have for it to be a dialogue is still forming but it is where it needs to be right now, not yet mature but growing. The discussion has begun and a new line of work reaches a milestone. Happy work, this is happy work.

 

2 Comments

  1. Diana Nussbaum June 2, 2014 Reply

    Kristina, I have totally enjoyed reading this post and it hit home, provoking some inner thoughts that I all too often ignore. Thank you for blazing the trail. We all can learn from our fathers and their journies whether they are dead or alive. I look forward to logging on again and seeing where this new road will take me.

    • Author
      K. Dipalo June 2, 2014 Reply

      Diana,

      Thank you so much for reading the piece. I am so happy that you found value in it. Hope to see you again soon!

      Kristina

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