One Note at a Time
HAPPY-MEDIUM: Author Phillip Sudo

Some people live to work.

Others work to live.

That well known saying implies we have only twochoices.

Either wefind something we love and try to earn a living doing it, or wework at something that will bring in enough money to allow us to spend time doing what we really want to dowhen we are not working.

If we are lucky enough to be good at something we love and it also brings in the cash, then that first option would be the obvious choice.

Many top athletes, musicians and crafts people seem to do this.

If we choose toearn a living bydoing workwe don’t love, that can work as well, provided we hold onto our free time so we can still enjoy the things weprefer to do.

Many business people and professionals appear to pull that one off. Both approaches, however, have their dangers.

As I see it, the big problem with devoting our lives to doing something we love is that doing anything for a living can take the fun out of it.

For example: it’s one thing to come home from work and pick up a guitar for half an hour; it is quite another to have to practice several hours a day and then perform at unsociable hours.

Then again, if we opt to chase the money, we risk becoming so wrapped up in our chosen activity that we neglectpotentially more enjoyable aspects of our lives.

But maybe those are not the only choices. Maybe a third option would be to fall in love with living in the present moment and doing whatever it is we happen to be doing to the best of our abilities.

Does that sound like something out of a self-help manual?

That might be because I’m rephrasing something I read recently in Zen Guitar, a book that attempts to equate playing an instrument to living.

To do either of those things well, Philip Sudo recommends we, “Play one note at a time and play each one as well as we can.”

The author says weshould try to do that in all aspects of our lives, but for most of us, that may be something we should see as a long-term goal.

If we were to start by applying the ‘best we can’ approach to our money earning activities, however, it might allow us to combine the best features of the two options mentionedearlier.

I think I managed to do that while I was running a guesthouse in Francistown.

I had a cleaner come in twice a week, but on her off days I cleaned the bedrooms and bathrooms by myself and did all the laundry and linen changes.

It was dead boring stuff, and I’m not going to tell you I managed to love the work itself, but when I decided to just get on with it and do every little job as well as I could, I found it very satisfying.

In other words, I fell in love with playing each note as well as I could… and doing that allowed me to feel very much alive while I worked.

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