What confused me a bit was that I could feel the dread of this work and simultaneously know that I actually love thinking about these topics. I find them fascinating. But other than the intrigue, a roadblock set itself down before me when I tried to think about a larger reason or impact that spending hours and days analyzing the way one newspaper article headline was worded would have on my life, my family, my community and yes, even the world.
And yet this is the nature of my work, the particular forms of analysis I am interested in...it is sloooooow. That's the point. It's not about breadth but depth. However, there is still the uncomfortable feeling resting beneath that tells me that doing these things can't possibly matter and questions whether it is a waste of time.
But ending on this thought would be devastating and fruitless.
It is not a waste of time because I am realizing it is not just about the task at hand. Yes, finishing a chapter or a section of a chapter is important. Getting the reading done is critical, but the process and the time spent being lost in thought--asking new questions, trying to connect the dots in a different way, enjoying the possibilities of what a word or phrase is implying or assuming is absolutely essential. It is where the creativity of the work is born and allowed to grow into something (potentially) worthwhile. And if nothing else, allowing the time to think and explore makes for a happy day. It makes the work fulfilling and enjoyable rather than trying to rush it by to get to the next thing. It is about living life in the moment and learning that striving for results ruins the here and now, it stunts the growth of what you are doing and turns the focus away from what needs to be learned.
On this note, I've included the following video (I received it in an email from a professor in the Centre for Applied Human Rights here at the University of York)--it's cute and insightful:
So I want to aim to start getting lost in the creativity of the work--allowing time to think and explore and get beyond that "first idea". This applies to any job I think, and for me I fully intend to use it both at home and at the university: for my parenting, housekeeping, researching and teaching.
I also found this clip helpful. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi is a psychologist and has done research on how to be happy at work. Here is what he says needs to be done to get there (and it's not about the big careers with lots of glory and rewards...):