“There’s something admirable about finding satisfaction in the simple, everyday pleasures of life, and it’s becoming harder and harder to do. We’re bombarded every day: here’s the brave soldier who saved a school bus full of kids with nothing but a crowbar and fishing line; here’s the 30-something billionaire who is going to cure aging so we can all live forever; here’s the 12-year-old who can play Stravinksy’s Rite of Spring on seven different instruments with her feet. “
Mark Manson- Being Special Isn’t So Special
A few weeks ago I was talking to a production manager for a touring symphonic show. She was telling me how she had always been a rocker chick and worked for rock bands. This was a different thing for her- the glamour and indulgence had been stripped away. But after weeks of hearing classical music the tour had really started to grow on her. She said it sounds silly and that on the outside it might sound boring and repetitive and maybe it was. But she said it didn’t feel like that.
I know this feeling. I have a gig where I’ve played with the same people in the same place for almost nine years. The music isn’t difficult, the other musicians are like my family. Still, there are waves of time when I feel like I would rather go do something else. Like any wave it passes, and I show up and do my job. I’m always glad that I did.
Because buried in these normal, routine jobs are special things, provided you are paying attention. In playing this gig I’ve ended up making very close friends, meeting lots of people, and learning about myself- mainly that I am capable of much more than I often give myself credit for. All this comes from a job that, on the outside, may look routine, tedious, and repetitive.
There are people who get up everyday and spend their lives doing their work, not making much fuss and emanating a quiet satisfaction. I know some of these people. The man who worked in retail middle management for two decades has the most wicked sense of humor and powerful observational skills. The service tech who has fixed restaurant equipment his whole life and can look at anything that is broken and immediately know what is wrong with it. All these things take time. We don’t see the work that these people have put in. There isn’t a whole lot of flash or grandeur, and it’s not packed up in a tidy, three minute clickbait video.
I fall into the millennial generation. The media likes to describe us as entitled, needy, whiny, afraid of work, and abhorrent of responsibility. Many of us were told growing up that we were special, that some things were below us, that we didn’t want to end up flipping burgers or being construction workers. You can blame baby-boomer parents for saying these things, or you can blame millennials for believing them. Regardless of where the blame may lie it falls on us to make our experience. Some of us developed self-worth issues when we found the world wasn’t as we were promised it was and that we weren’t so special. Others of us did the shit that we were going to do anyway. Once you let go of the idea that maybe you aren’t so special, it opens you up to seeing the value in the things that you are capable of, even when these things appear to be rather ordinary and mundane.
This is brings us to the Snow Fox, also called the Arctic Fox. Just another warm-blooded mammal chilling in the tundra trying to survive. To catch its dinner (which is often buried under up to three feet of snow) the snow fox makes these beautiful leaps headfirst into the earth:
Rather ordinary on the surface. But according to studies there is something deeper going on. In a study done in the Czech Republic, as researcher found that in nearly all cases of leaping, the Snow Fox does it in a north-easterly direction. That would put them leaping toward magnetic north, which is some twenty degrees off of north as a compass would point. By using the earth’s magnetic field and the sound of their prey beneath the snow, scientists believe this is how the foxes triangulate their prey’s location and compose their leap.
They aren’t always successful. Sometimes they come up with a face full of snow and no dinner.
This is the lesson of the Snow Fox. It’s knowing that beneath our silly jobs and the boring things we have to do come profound understandings and insights. There is always something special to be found in making your dinner, or raising your children, or quietly putting something beautiful into the world. There is something profound is these ordinary things. Sometimes they feel like a burden and doing them comes with a lot of resistance but no one is perfect.
This blade started out as something else. In making and fixing some mistakes early in the process, I ended up with something new.
Remember the special things that are going on under the surface of the ordinary. It’s ok if you end up with a face full of snow.