December 27, 2012
At long last, I again have an office! Two months from the day we moved in to our new home in Northern California, it is done. Here will be sanctuary from the dominant gender in my household. Nothing against the fair ones –I love my wife and three daughters mightily- but a man needs his office. Especially if said man writes for a living. (Honestly, even if he doesn’t.) Like an old leather jacket or a favorite pair of jeans, an office means usefulness. Not a library (too upper crusty) or a man cave (too lowbrow); I’m talking about a room with desk, television, phone, computer and copier. Files are kept there. The checkbook. And speaking of books, some books. Not necessarily all of them but some. Actual books might be going away but a few stacks keep a guy honest.
I have had an office for the last twenty years and pined for one even longer. To me a home office symbolizes adulthood in the best sense of the word. It is for getting work done –be it a piece of copy, the great American novel or a blog post like this- but, unlike the work office, it is also for pondering.
For even when my laptop is open (always) or the television on (sometimes) I am always pondering. And here that’s okay. Fact is pondering outside an office has lesser terms to describe it. Daydreaming. Fantasizing. Not paying attention. Here, I can do all of that and more. While the hustle and bustle of our household is steps away here is peace. I stare at the squirrels (bigger here than in Chicago) outside my window scurrying up the pine trees (also bigger) and think about nature, while sound muted the myriad athletes gallivanting on ESPN provide subtle inspiration to man’s great potential. From this leather chair all things are possible! Pondering begets plans and plans lead to action.
Pondering is this agnostic’s form of prayer. I meditate on what I’ve done and not done and can do and will. I may worry but the fear is mitigated by this mission control-like space.
I have two other great pondering spaces: my car and the running track. But in those realms I have another priority. The office is an extension of my head space in its ideal mode. In the coming new year who knows what exciting chapters will be pondered and composed there? I aim to find out.
Two months ago I started my new adventure at gyro (the “g” isn’t capitalized), San Francisco. I chose the word adventure on purpose. For not only is it a new job but it is one that takes me away from Chicago, the first time outside of university that I have lived or worked anywhere else in the world.
The job. The thing I chose to do. Or did it choose me? I wonder because most days I report to work feeling pretty damn lucky. The people here are becoming like kin. I can’t imagine they feel the same way about me but it doesn’t matter. I belong here. I feel it in my bones.
When I interviewed for this position I said my goal was to be of maximum use to the agency, to the network and to myself. I told gyro I didn’t believe in passive creative directors, that I am a player/ coach. I like to write. I like to sell. I like to make things better. Watching a client get fired up over seeing his brand illuminated is an opiate. Winning prizes. Getting paid. All that comes after. I told gyro this and they believed me.
Our CEO and Chief Creative Officer, Christophe Becker writes of the great merger between work and life, how the two components have become one. We no longer separate them, like our parents did and the men and women who beget them. Business or pleasure? Both. Case in point: I’m writing this post for peronal and professional reasons, each as important as the other:
For my colleagues, so they know how much I appreciate their growing confidence and support in me. Your adventures are mine, too. We are a team!
For my clients, so they know how much I care about their goals, personal and professional. I know clients want to be stars, not merely stewards. And I want to help them.
For my children, so each knows that loving work is possible and that it’s an amazing feeling when you do: in my opinion, a necessary feeling. I don’t want my children ever believing work is anything less than an adventure. Dear girls, aspire to love your work as you would a dear pet, even a brother or sister. All can (and likely will) break your heart. But that’s work and that’s life.
For my wife so she can see me at my best. Lord knows she’s seen worse! God bless you for supporting me in my adventures. I pray I do the same for you.
Lastly, I write this for me. Walt Whitman sang the song of himself and so do I. What in the name of the American Dream is wrong with that?
Like you, I read the trades and insider blogs. I see the stories about an industry in chaos, its people on the take. And I think to myself: lucky me, I don’t view it that way. Advertising has rough seas. What business doesn’t? But if you are on a good boat with sound crew and deft leadership it’s an adventure. I feel that way and it changes everything: my demeanor, my heart and even my soul. Work is life and that is the carrot.