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 As an as-yet-unpublished writer, my work doesn’t result in monetary compensation.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?