So, what do you do for a living?


What do you work on?

Either appears to be a simple question. But if you really wanted to give the essence of what you do, beyond some simple label, I imagine you run into problems.

But try respond in a sentence or two and what happens?

I imagine you start, but then fumble. Maybe you think “it’s boring” and are left speechless. Maybe you find it interesting, but then you struggle to find the words of what makes it exciting.

The deeper we go into any field of knowledge, whether in our jobs, hobbies, or relationships, our words to describe it seem to grow distant. Something about its essence works its way into us, somehow shedding words along the way.

Sometimes we go so deep as to lose its recognition entirely, a fish clueless that they swim in water. (Some call it “expert blindness”, but I like the fish image.)

I ran into this problem myself while designing my Guide for the Wandering Mind. In fact, even after recording the lesson twice, readying myself for a third and hopefully final run, I had no idea that I had completely missed the most important part.

The module is about the being phase of a visit to work. Unsurprisingly, it’s about a time where we simply be, whether in flow, scatter, or anywhere in between.

What’s more simultaneously simple and complex than being?

There are currently four sections to the module:

  1. Using pen and paper to help us stay on track
  2. Recognizing a role for daydreams
  3. Engaging the emotions of “hard work”
  4. Finding stability through questions

Each section goes into detail about various practices, techniques, and exercises one could use to not only stay on track, but to dive deep in work and do it well.

I thought I had it covered. But it wasn’t until I was in conversation with one of my clients that I realized the most important part:

Simply being with the work

It may well sound like the softest, hokiest nonsense, but I assure you it is not.

Strong emotions can easily lead us into scatter. At times the nebulous winds and water, the cloudy sense of confusion, each have us finding anything and everything to do except the thing we thought to focus on.

It’s only when we gently engage, allowing ourselves the time to be with feeling that comes from our focus, be that in work or in therapy, that we start learning the conditions and hopefully how to sail them.

How is it that I missed this? It’s the centerpiece! Yet, here we are.

PS Consider for a moment, What do you do? What is its essence? Can you say that in a sentence or two?

Why not get out pen and paper and see what comes to mind? Give it time. Set it aside and come back. Thoughts, after all, take time to form from emotion and its emanations of memories, motions, and the like. The prompts of life, the day to day, and the depths of deliberate focus may all weave their way onto paper and maybe even surprise you.