In which a couple of contractors redo the bathroom, and my perspective

Today’s Quest 2016 prompt, from visionary Sally Hogshead:

Of these 3 options, which one is most important in your work right now:

  • Quality of life
  • Quality of work
  • Quality of compensation 

The short answer:


The long answer:

I don’t know how coherent this is going to be because just across the hall, the contractors are fixing the disastrous bathroom. It’s getting LOUD up in here, y’all.

First, I had to tackle the notion of “compensation,” which my gut impulse wanted to read as “money.” As an as-yet-unpublished writer, my work doesn’t result in monetary compensation. There are, however, richer rewards, the ones that keep me joyfully on this path even when the mortgage payment is due and the grocery money is gone and we’ve lived with a leaky shower for months:

  • sheer pleasure–of words and stories
  • deep wonder–of connection with ideas and people
  • perennial hope–of making a career, and a difference, of my passion
  • profound sense of rightness–that this is what I’m meant to do

I also had to define “quality of life” for myself. For me, a life of quality involves

  • love
  • meaning
  • beauty
  • nature
  • creativity
  • connection

Quality of work is simple–it’s the beauty and impact of the words I put into the world.

For me, these three–quality of compensation, quality of life, quality of work–are interwoven, a trinity. Each depends upon the others and determines the others.

But it also feels like a cop-out not to choose. So, if I have to choose one, I choose quality of life. I choose it because the quality of my life makes possible the quality of my work, which makes possible the quality of my compensation. I choose quality of life because I am mystified by the people who build huge houses and then have to go away from them to work to pay for them and then come home and do nothing but work to maintain them. I choose quality of life because I write out of love and reverence and wonder for all life, out of a soul-deep desire to connect with all of it. I choose quality of life because without it, my work would be diminished and compensation unthinkable. I choose quality of life because the contractors overhauling the bathroom are exchanging gourmet-sounding recipes and singing while they do some seriously quality work, and one of them plays our piano beautifully on his lunch break, and I think they’ve got it figured out and I want to be just like them when I grow up.

Thanks, contractors. Far from being a distraction, your power tools and boot clomping and voices are helping me home in on what matters.

I put “life” at the top of my drawing because, at the end of the day, what else do we really have?

But now I’m curious–which would you choose?


13 thoughts on “In which a couple of contractors redo the bathroom, and my perspective

  1. Yes! Of course, I should have waited to read this until after I wrote my own. (Spoiler: my answer will sound a lot like this one, I’m afraid!) I love the triad visual, by the way.

  2. I’m with you. I choose life quality, too. Ironically, in the past couple of days (before receiving the prompt), I made some changes to that end and already notice the relief in my being.
    I have so much respect for the way you defined what each of these is to you. I, too, had to remember that compensation is (much) more than money.
    And I enjoyed reading that piano-playing, singing, chef contractors inspired at least part of your process. For a myriad of reasons — some of which you can probably imagine.

    1. Here’s to life quality! Glad to hear that changes are working well for you. It’s amazing how sometimes the simplest things can make an immediate difference. Now I’m curious about your myriad of reasons. 🙂

      1. I judge that these men broke stereotypes about men, construction workers, and tough guys by being discussing recipes, singing, and playing piano. I like it when men do that. Being a man who sings and plays piano, I like this story about them even better.
        I’m a lousy cook/chef, however. 🙂

  3. You said it all for me, so now I’d better use the time I’ve saved to go and find a bit of life! But seriously, the compensation seems to exert the least claim because if the quality of work (in my case the writing) reflects a better balanced life ( and mine is on a knife edge) then compensation can be left to itself. Never money for me but new friends and some readers will do. Apropos workman, mine are my only real life friends! None that play the piano except the tuner and he comes once a year!

    1. I need to find a tuner! This piano needs help. Or maybe it’s just my playing…..:) I think that so much of the compensation, for me, is just the knowledge that I’ve done quality work. And new friends, I think, are the best compensation of all.

  4. Since my quality of life is about to change drastically with the addition of a newborn in a couple of months, I’m finding that my mind is preoccupied with figuring out which parts of my quality of life are non-negotiable and planning ways to still get them while trying to keep another human being alive. I’m reminding myself that quality of work and compensation, while pleasant, will not keep me sane at yet another 3 a.m. feeding, and they really can go by the wayside for the time being. 🙂

    1. Jen, you are very wise to think about these things now while you still have two brain cells to rub together! And smart to prioritize the important stuff. I’ll be here if you need someone to listen and be totally honest about motherhood. You’re gonna rock this, lady. ❤

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