How To Do Your Real Work

Every so often I write about resistance. You know, the distractions we give in to that pull us away from our real work.

In my case, it’s writing. In yours it could be designing the next space vehicle.

Whatever your calling is, you’re familiar with the pull to distract.

Distractions allure you. Out of the blue you long to learn Latin. Or free-fall from an airplane. Or take tango lessons in Buenos Aires.

Maybe it’s not such a large vision that compels you to drop what you’re doing. Maybe it’s bull-riding lessons, finger painting, or singing with your canary.

Sometimes the distraction is even closer than that.

Facebook.

Twitter.

Pinterest.

Blogging. (Checking your analytics every hour)

Text messages.

Skype.

Video games.

I could go on, but you catch my drift.

The social media platforms are massive distractions! They will absorb you. Consume you. Smother you.

They  also:

Stall you.

Numb you.

Suck your energy.

They’re only a worthwhile investment when you’re building a posse of fans for your work.

Otherwise it’s death to your creativity!

Go on a diet.

Make a pledge to look at these platforms only after you’ve done your work.

Tell a friend to hold you accountable.

And then notice your productivity and creativity soar.

Calvin says, “Yep, when I get pulled off a scent, I end up in a ditch with thorns up my butt.”

 

 

 

 

What A Golden Chair Says About Reading

Everyday on my way home I walk past a cafe that has one gold chair in it. You can’t miss it. It’s one-of-a-kind shiny gold snakeskin faux leather.  It’s by the bookshelf spilling with pre-owned books that nobody reads. The other tables and chairs are functional and boring, and usually filled with customers. The gold chair stays empty.

“I find it odd that nobody sits in it,” I said to Jasmine, my friend at work.

“Oh, it’s because nobody reads anymore,” Jasmine said.

“Like nobody sits down anymore either?” I said.

“Not in that chair, they don’t. They’d be self-conscious.”

“You mean, reading is now a self-conscious behavior?”

“If you’re not reading on a tablet, or your smart phone, you’re dated,” Jasmine said. “Nobody wants to stand out like that.”

I love to read. Real books. The kind with lots of pages crammed with words.

The next day on my way home, I made a detour and went into the cafe. I ordered an espresso at the counter, paid for it, and walked over to the gold chair. I sat down. I looked around. The other customers were engrossed in their conversations. Nobody noticed me sitting there. While I sipped my espresso, I turned my attention to the book titles. One of them caught my attention.

The book was: Historical Rumps on the Gold Chair by Sir Robert Bottoms-Up.

I laughed out loud.

A few people stopped talking to look at me.

Then the chair began to vibrate. At first I thought it was an earthquake. Nobody else seemed alarmed. The vibrations got stronger to the tickling point. I laughed louder. This time more customers stared at me. I looked around me. I was the only one experiencing this. I had a choice. To enjoy the massage or bolt.

What would you do?

Calvin says, “Do you get a free goodie if you pass the 3-minute mark?”

Come Hither

A father and college-age son. At a café.

Dad: Take some literature classes when you get to college. Stories will save your life.

Son: How so?

Dad: You’ll learn how to communicate and you’ll avoid counseling when you’re married.

Son: What if I only want to take science classes?

Dad: You’ll have a tough time as a husband and father. Your children don’t come out of the chute speaking geek. And your wife will need to learn this language in order to know who you are, and she’ll be too busy with the kids, do you want to put her through that?

Son: Geez, I had no idea being an engineer would be so hazardous to my future.

Dad: Not if you mix it up with some Shakespeare, some poetry, and some good fiction.

Son: That will delay my getting out of school.

Dad: I’ll pay for the delay. It’s my investment in your marriage and my grand kids.

Son: Thy should’st not worry, father. I resolve to mark your words.

Calvin says, “That explains why I only speak hound. I wish my dad had recommended Peanuts and Winnie the Poo to me.”

Pre-Viously Loved Books

Since Borders has closed most of its stores in the Bay Area, that leaves those of us, who still appreciate the feel of a real book in our hands, with the option of the second-hand bookshop. There’s two worthy of note: Bibliohead in San Francisco (http://www.bibliohead.com/) and Half-Price Books in Berkeley and Fremont (http://www.hpb.com/).

Melissa, the owner of Bibliohead, is an avid reader and knows her books. I’ve asked her on several occasions to recommend a book in a genre I like and she hasn’t disappointed me yet. I came home this week with two stories: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery and Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon.

Biliohead is small, intimate and crammed with good titles for the buyer looking for literature, mysteries, poetry, and music and dance, it’s specialty. Half-Price is larger in space with books that include science, computers, and religion besides literature and mysteries. You’re more on your own there, but you’ll find what you like.

If you’re the adventurous type, and you don’t mind chaos, visit Serendipity Books in Berkeley (http://www.serendipitybooks.com/). It specializes in poetry, first editions and wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling books. As soon as you’re in the front door, watch your step because books are everywhere. And then you’ll meet Peter, the owner, sitting in a grand chair surveying his kingdom of titles.

“I’m looking for poetry by Billy Collins, first editions,” I say.

“Go straight past Literature on your right, then take another right past Drama, then up a flight of stairs, make a left, through the doorway, watch your head there, and go straight through past the kitchen, and in the back, you’ll find Poetry.”

Good luck.

Calvins says, “Looking for a good book is like digging up an old bone. It’s worth kicking up some dirt.”