occupation as a lens

I’ve been noticing that every time I learn or work with a new skill how I see the world changes. But maybe more importantly, how I see and connect to people also changes.

My most habitual skill, of course, is music-making. Watching a pianist perform versus a cellist is a completely different experience for me as I’m entrenched in what/how/why cello-playing works. When I hear a pianist play, there is more head space available for me to simply hear the music. However when I hear a cellist, I don’t simply hear the cellist: I feel the physicality. I understand the time that they put into a particularly difficult passage. I automatically stack up their musical choices next to mine and see where we are the same and what is different. I don’t really try to activate this kind of listening, but rather it is a result of the time I’ve invested in learning the skill.

But I think this applies broadly as well. After bartending for 5 years, I can’t help but stack my plates and cups, leave a healthy tip, and exit before the restaurant closes. After spending time teaching, I look at teachers differently. After spending a summer doing lawn care, I look at people’s yards differently. After painting houses, rooms and walls, I look at that occupation differently too. The more I work in different fields, the wider my lens becomes of it. And I think I’m the better for it. My primary drive is that of comprehension. I want to understand deeply how the world works and operates. And how better to do so than to live my way into that knowledge?

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