Lately my life has felt like this Chinese fan: colorful, but busy busy busy. The work retreat has ended, though, and today is the first day when I could stick my head up, out of the computer and work table level, and not only take a look around but walk out the door. Where I ended up was crawling around underneath our overgrown juniper and barberry bushes with a hand pruning saw, cutting out dead wood and somehow managing, with the armor of heavy gloves and a long-sleeved shirt, not to get too scratched up. There's something enormously satisfying about pruning, and this was the macro sort - cutting big branches, hauling box elder saplings and rampant wild rose and Virginia creeper vines out of the tangle of thorny barberry branches with all my strength until they came free with a gratifying thwack.
On the other hand, I've loved the work our small team of four accomplished during a three-day intensive retreat, from the planning to the interviews we conducted, to the intense brainstorming sessions and evenings of food, drink, and continued discussion. So much of my professional life has been more segmented and linear: meet with the client, go home and do the work, present mock-ups for approvals, get the jobs printed or produced. But I greatly prefer working in a somewhat larger team where the responsibilites are divided up according to expertise but the creative effort is much more shared by the group. This particular job is complex and involves not only good ideas and technical execution, but a careful strategy as to how we're going to build alliances and gain approval among a diverse, often competitive group of leaders in the client-institution.
All four of us are around 50 years old, and we all said, toward the end of our time together, how impossible it would have been to do this particular work when we were younger, since we're all finding it necessary to draw on all the experience we've accumulated to try to figure out how to pull this off successfully. It's hard work, but the kind that makes you run on all cylinders - and that's fun.