Life is Work (But Work Isn’t Life)

“Without work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.” — Albert Camus

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” — Rumi

Work means different things to different people. I may enjoy pitching ideas to clients and marketing products to customers, whereas you would rather eat your own left foot than deal with customers directly.

A lot of creative “work” I do doesn’t feel like work at all. Technically I am working and working towards a vision, but it doesn’t feel laborious. Naturally, I get joy and energy when I’m working on things I love. But then again, I’m not just doing one thing I’m juggling a few things throughout the day, so there’s rarely a moment where I feel like I want to stop. 9 AM turns into 3 PM very quickly. Plus, I’m sprinkling in healthy practices and breaks here and there—like meditation or going on a walk—so there’s a lot of factors at play.

One important lesson creative work has taught me is life takes work, but work shouldn’t be your entire life.

It takes work to live an intentional and meaningful life. In fact, it’s likely much easy to live a flippant, unintentional life. It doesn’t take much effort to eat fast food, never exercise, stay up late, work just for a paycheck, drink heavily, and veg out on the weekends.

Living intentionally and pursuing a dream, on the other hand, takes effort. Lots of effort. But the effort is part of the joy.

There’s rarely anything more rewarding than sticking to a goal and being consistent with it.

There are limits, of course. If all you do is work then your life is off balance. Friendships, love, community, mind-body, and spirit are just as important (and rewarding) as what you do for a living.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1053

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Breathing Room

“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Steve Jobs

Clutter is a very visible thing. You can see it stuffed on bookshelves and overflowing on dressers. You can see it pilled in closets, hanging off unused at-home exercise machines, and clustered in junk drawers. You can even see it in our digital lives: overflowing emails, apps, friends, tabs, Desktop screens, notes, and files.

But what makes clutter feel like clutter?

Is it because things are unorganized and ‘out of place’ compared to where you would expect them? Or maybe it’s because things are too many things compared to the space available?

My vote is on clutter feels like clutter because it doesn’t have the space it (whatever it is) needs to be useful and comfortable (for lack of a better word).

Think about it—

A desk isn’t very useful if you’re stuff is everywhere and so overpowering and distracting that you can’t actually sit down (or stand up) and work unless you wade through all the clutter first.

A bookshelf isn’t very enlightening if you can’t find the book you are looking for, or worse—you see the book but its under a hundred things and can’t be removed unless you want to be squashed like a bug as books and piles of crap fall on you to your doom.

Our possessions need breathing room—otherwise, they lose their usefulness.

The same is true for most (if not all) things in our lives too.

It’s hard to be a good freelancer if you juggling a dozen clients while also working on two side hustles.

It’s difficult to create anything if you spend all your time doing everything but working on your art.

It’s impossible to get work done if you spend all your time jumping from meeting after meeting or spending half the day sporadically responding to email.

And most importantly, it’s tough being a good friend, or skilled professional, or partner, or sibling, or father, if you spread yourself too thin.

Everything needs a little breathing room to work properly. Without it, we’re also gonna be running late, busy, overworked, and unfulfilled.

Q: How can you add more breathing room into your life? Alt: What can you remove to give yourself more breathing room?

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Albert Einstein

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1020

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Balanced Freedom

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

Thomas Merton

I think personal freedom most of us want—the flexibility to do whatever we want when we want it—isn’t what truly gives us freedom.

True freedom is a balance between flexibility to create the life you want, and constraint and challenge to do so by our own hands rather than something given or easily bought.

Without challenge, life feels dull. Too much challenge (at once) and life becomes unbearable. Personal freedom lies within those boundaries.

This plays out on the micro-level of life as much as the macro.

I love reading and I think I want an infinite amount of time to read, but I’d probably burn myself out if that’s all I did. 

I love traveling, but if all I did was travel I would eventually feel like a ragdoll.

I desire more wealth, but if all I did was work I would have no life outside of work. 

Like everything in life, too much of anything has diminishing returns and becomes harmful. Absolute freedom leads us to Netflix in chill our way to oblivion. it’s the equivalent of having a diet of only eating ice cream. Not only is this harmful, but its also increasingly satisfying.

All this to say, that a balanced life is more than just work, or more than just your art, or more than just your friends or just your family. 

A life in balance is all these things and more. Failure needs success. Loneliness needs love. Money needs a purpose. Happiness needs contentment. (Yin needs Yang.) And vice versa.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #921

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