Enjoying What You Do

I read this on the subway ride home yesterday evening: Navigating Stuckness, by Jonathan Harris.

“In life, you will become known for doing what you do. That sounds obvious, but it’s profound. If you want to be known as someone who does a particular thing, then you must start doing that thing immediately. Don’t wait. There is no other way. It probably won’t make you money at first, but do it anyway. Work nights. Work weekends. Sleep less. Whatever you have to do. If you’re lucky enough to know what brings you bliss, then do that thing at once. If you do it well, and for long enough, the world will find ways to repay you.”

As I walked home – snow falling, unplowed streets, an unnatural quiet for the city, and drifts piling high on the stoops of the brownstones – I felt blessed about the friends and office I had left earlier that day, and blessed with what I was going home to. Doing “that thing” immediately? I feel like I’m pretty close to finding that “bliss” and enjoyment.

I enjoy the work I do and I enjoy what it allows me to create. I enjoy the city I live in and the opportunities it has provided me. I enjoy the river outside my door, and the beaches and mountains a short drive away. I enjoy the people I share my life with. I enjoy the home I’ve created and I enjoy the wife, love, and friend I come home to.

It’s basically a version of Jonathan’s description below:

“When I think about my own future, my dream is always the same. I’m living in a small beautiful farmhouse in a small beautiful town among a small community that values me. I’m living with a wife and kids I love deeply, and I spend each day making art and watching nature. My mind is clear and calm, I’m in control of my time, and I’m kind.”


My resolution this year could be considered a followup to last years, “ought to’s, got to’s, and like to’s.”

Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
– Benjamin Franklin

I read that and thought back to a passage I read in Steinbeck a while ago. We all have a choice. We have to tread water, but we can choose to either sit there and tread, or we can choose (resolve) to swim in some direction. As Steinbeck explained in East of Eden, within Genesis and the story of Cain and Abel there are very important phrases…’thou shalt’ and ‘do thou.’ What gets forgotten is ‘Thou mayest’. ‘Thou mayest rule over sin.’

The american Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel – ‘Thou mayest’ – that gives a choice. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on man. Why that makes a man great, that give him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course, fight it through, and win.”

The big point is that I have the choice to choose my own course and resolve to act on this course. I resolve to do what I “ought,” knowing that I will prosper. His voice says,

“Forget the former things; do not dwell in the past. See, I am doing a new thing! For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…”
Jeremiah 29:11