Victus Spiritus


Do you need a vacation if you love what you do? 

14 Jun 2011

Having only experienced the faintest glimmers of loving my profession (rare moments at my day job), the signals for a vacation are slow to build but unavoidable. It begins with a mild form of wanderlust, distractive thoughts which dance at the edge of my conscious attention. If ignored for a few weeks or months, the feeling progresses into a malaise that cannot be shaken with my standard instruments of exercise and rest. 

I can balance that lingering weariness with part time projects driven purely by my curiosity and interest. But even the energy and enthusiasm I draw from self directed side work only goes so far. There comes a time when I must take a break. 

Even while rapidly converging to this limit break this morning, two open questions struck me. Do folks who absolutely love their crafts need vacations? How do they recognize the signs that it's time for a break?

This is a problem I'd like to have.
Craftsmanship can only go so far without the practitioner dreaming about the intricacies of their labor. Without an intense emotional commitment, our attention is liable to stray to simpler, more attractive tasks. The fine balance between challenge and reward is like scaling a twisted slippery glass stairwell without rails. Along the staircase amateurs become journeymen, journeymen become experts, and in rare moments experts ascend into masters. It's easy to ignore that the base of the stairwell is thick in fallen souls when you only look up, and yet it's not falling that's so terrible, but the fear of it. 

Artisans experience immense joy from practicing their craft. It is this fascination and relentless drive which brings them back again and again to refactor a fine piece of work, and either destroy it or yield a masterpiece. Driven beyond all sane boundaries, when does a master recognize the need for a change of pace and direction?