Growing up I thought that quality was a natural inherent sense in all of us. I would hear things like “follow your conscience” and imagine that inside all of us is some hidden wisdom that will tell us what is good and bad.
As an adult I tell myself that I don’t believe this anymore, but it’s still a deeply ingrained habit of mine to assume that there will be something that stops me from being too bad. Our bodies give us a sense of what is harming us in our immediate physicality. But the cells in our body and the dendrites in our brains don’t have any ability to predict what’s good for us in the future. Or what psychological harm there may be in the long term, or hidden physical harms.
Now the terms “follow your conscience” has taken on a different meaning for me. It’s not the conscience of the little voice I expect to be there to guide me whenever I’m in a confuddle. I’m now trying to find the conscious in me. The awareness when I open my eyes and mind, and drop the automatic filters that block my perception.
It’s satori that I’m seeking. The awareness of the buddha.
What’s better? Doing a good job because you like to do good work? Or doing a good job because you feel passionate about something?
It used to sound obvious to me that the first is superior. This would ensure that you always do a good job, despite the job, and this will maximize your chances for success in the world. Simple. Straight. Easy. Right?
But living my life that way hasn’t gotten me anywhere really important. In fact it’s become one of the biggest hurdles in my life to get over. I’m finding that, where others with similar chances in life and now are doing GREAT work, I’m still just doing.. a good job.
The difference between me and those people is that they waited to find something that they’re really passionate about before they committed to doing better than just a good job. A commitment is a powerful thing, and while I’ve been blindly whoring my good work onto every other field I’ve encountered, I’ve never really felt the power of full commitment.
And now commitment, passion, and great work is missing in my life. How sad.
So learn from me boys and girls, sometimes a job well done is not its own reward.
Isabel Allende, and the way she wrote about writing itself, inspires me to increase the quality of my writing.
There must be some deep yearning in all of us to recognize quality, without being able to precisely point out what about it makes something so rich, inviting, beautiful. I don’t know what it is exactly about that quote that attracts me. I’m sure professionals of literature could point out semantic tid-bits that causes it to be so well structured. I’m sure seasoned veterans of writing can explain certain nuances of how she writes that triggers happiness receptors in a readers mind.
But I know from experience that knowledge isn’t truly power. Experience and practice is required to reach wisdom, which is true power.
I read this book once, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, where the author talks about going insane when delving into the depths of quality, what it is, why it is, etc. And how he had to rebuild his life after shock-therapy.
So I can appreciate that quality, what it means, what it actually is, is a very dangerous issue. But it is an issue that we must all be willing to pursue, maybe not through intellectual rigor, but definitely through practice.
One step at a time right? So for now, let me see if I can improve my writing. Once again, Isabel Allende gives a perfect reason why.