At some point in my mid-20’s, I realized my own creative efforts would always be small. Stories I told my friends, pictures I printed for my own walls, quilts I made for family. That’s fine. I enjoy them and there is less pressure to develop the meticulous, perfectionist streak necessary to truly finish a project. Nonetheless, every so often, something comes along that makes me wish I were that good, wish I were that committed to trying, that capable of expression. Badly Broken Code punched that button for me. So I’m thrilled to be able to see her do her work, in a small room, coming off several weeks of me running around crazy and facing several months of serious stress.
We had dinner the other night with a friend, who is a professional performer to the extent that she does it with professional commitment, professional skill and consistently. But she has a day job. She told an anecdote about William Shatner, crediting Patrick Stewart with teaching him gratitude for what Star Trek gave him in life. And we talked briefly about whether all performance was to some degree play. We talked about what it meant to love your work and whether play is necessary to that.
I love my job. I really do. I enjoy reading academic papers about the relative merits of differing means of selecting judges. I would happily read studies of whether or not criminal justice reform acknowledges failure enough for its own good as a recreational activity in my spare time. But it’s not playful. It’s not precisely fun.
I am lucky that the thing I do all day every day is enjoyable to me because it is still work, and I am still tired, with no energy or time, really, to do other things at the end of my job most days. It’s also nice to have friends who remind you what that means.