Here we see me engaged in Hillbilly Fan Cleaning.
Too frugal to go buy a new fan, and in ideological defiance of disposable culture, yet robust and industrious, I proceed to wrap a washcloth around a butter knife, then stab repeatedly the rectangular slots of the fan chassis, scrubbing and pulling out chunks of black dust.
Hey, a computer guy has to be creative to think of physical labors to perform as a break from staring at a screen and analyzing query strings.
Every job is the same.
Mine is web content development. I help companies with web usability, SEO, and website content writing. My goal is to enable the companies to make more money. More and more, this prosperity is linked to a very aggressive internet marketing program, which is my chosen specialty.
What's your job? I'd love to hear about it.
I ask people I meet what they do, then I ask for an insight or anecdote that will surprise me. They look at me funny for a second, but quickly launch into an interesting story or fact that I did not know. I ask them to tell me the strangest thing that ever happened. Or what is the hardest part of the job. Or your favorite part of the job.
I admire people who do any job on earth, no matter how high or low the pay and prestige. I don't care about that. I'm just as astonished at a hamburger flipper working a late night closing shift as I am with a retinal surgeon who saved my eye from blindness.
I read Studs Terkel's book "Working" in my early years, which gave me first person accounts of what it's like to work at various jobs. The impact of that book never departed from me. Huge respect for all workers and jobs and duties.
Every job involves doing something meticulously, fantastically, completely, perfectly.
You are convinced that, within the scope and time restraints of the project, with the ultimate goal in mind, the work must be absolutely and altruistically perfect, resulting in the best it could possibly be, and even better.
After you've practiced perfection for a while, you realize that perfection is not good enough. To go beyond perfection means no matter how good it is, it bothers you to know that nothing is ever past tweaking, enhancing, re-modeling, messing with to improve it.
Even perfection, while even impossible to perfect is still lacking something that is somehow beyond perfection. It's a transcendent quality that rises above the objective reality of the object and suspends it elastically above it.
It's no big challenge or learning experience to go to the store and buy a new fan. It's more refreshing and rewarding to make do with what I currently have, the dirty fan, and convert it, transform it into a clean fan, without spending money, without taking the easy way out.
My work, your work, is always like that.
We work at something we either tolerate or enjoy, but regardless of our feelings about the work itself, we are driven to do it as pluperfectly as we can, then push ourselves some more.
When we all keep learning and training and expanding our capabilities, embellishing our expertise, adding new trinkets and bells and whistles all the time, our entire society starts renewing and rehabilitating itself in excellence and efficiency.
Your inner critic is ruthless, but knows that life rewards smart work, hard work, and conscientious work.