On Finding Purpose in My Work

I thoroughly enjoyed my work today. The neatnik/visual learner/graphic artist side of me is always pleased when I can take two blank broadsheet pages and a jumble of stories and possible photo selections and arrange them in an attractive way.

The creative writer part of me gets little ripples of satisfaction when a feature story or review is full of potential puns and plays-on-words waiting to be harvested, reworked and used as headlines, subheads, cutlines, etc.

And, something tucked away inside me goes "Ahhh..." when I can take a photographer's messy, raw caption information and work in zesty adjectives and action-packed verbs until the caption and photo work together to tell a complete (and therefore beautiful) story.

When everything is "just so"-- when it "sings"-- it is then I often feel complete, content and proud of my work. If that feeling came every day, it could be enough.

Thankfully, on the days when things don't line up, and I feel frustrated, misunderstood, and under appreciated, I still have much to keep my hungry mind alive.

There is always more training needed. Every day I learn something I never knew before as I read and edit stories. And, best of all, my vast storehouse of co-workers (though perhaps not quite so vast as it used to be) holds my attention fast as it darts from one to the other, all day long.

As part of being what my roommate Lauren would call "observational," I am a student of human nature. I notice my co-workers' habits, likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, character, tendencies, personality and even individual humor styles. Because yes-- they all know how to laugh and how to make one another laugh.

In studying each person thus, I hope not to be thought intrusive or obsessive in any way. My co-workers would certainly never know, because I don't do it overtly. Rather, I apply myself to learning these things about them in order that I may learn where I fit and how best I can add to the wonderfully diverse crop of minds, hearts and souls who work in The Grand Rapids Press editorial department.

I don't want to be a lump in a desk chair, doing a drone job. I want this place to be an investment of who I am in every way, into a mission that is so much bigger than just daily news production.

News production (assigning, writing, editing, designing, headlining, etc.) -- that is what we DO. It is not who we ARE.

Underneath the sometimes tough and usually task-oriented exteriors of each writer and editor lives an enduring, conscious vitality -- some hearts more alive than others, yes... but what if I could help to wake the sleepers? What if, through a light in me, even the most inanimate hearts could beat again?

It isn't something I take lightly. It's not something I pretend to have accomplished in my time so far.

But no moments ahead are guaranteed. No snappish or impatient words can be unsaid. No disrespectful looks or less-than-gracious interchanges can be erased.

So, it seems it is time to get serious.

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