My grandfather (the Robert V from the above quote) had a study off of his basement. It smelled of pipe tobacco, long after he stopped smoking. There was a fireplace, plants everywhere, and beneath what was almost a wall of windows were rows of small bookshelves that he built himself.
I spent a few summers in my grandparents' house. I remember opening the basement door on hot days—the rush of cool air and that comforting musty damp smell. I would walk down the steep staircase, always timid, because the basement was dark and a bit of a maze. If I didn't find Grandpa standing there at his workbench, I'd go to the outside door that functioned as the barrier between the basement and his study. Through the little window I'd see him reading or writing quietly, framed by the golden glow of the sun streaming through the windows, reflecting off of the 1970s mustard yellow rug.
He was my creative kindred, and I think of him often. Along with a passion for writing, we shared a love and need for time alone. At our family's cottage on the lake, we'd run into each other in the woods. I'd be up in the trees, he'd be trimming limbs. We never said anything to one another, but I didn't mind him being there, and I don't think he minded me either.
I think what I love most about his life is that all of it—from his 9 to 5 as a political science professor to his writing to his woodcarving—all of it was pleasurable as a means. Every pursuit was done purely for the joy of doing. He did good work for the sake of good work. He built a beautiful life that way, brick by beautiful brick.
But like bricks—pursuing passions has become ornamental. We do it now to fuel our egos, for the validation, the "likes" and the followers. And while that's no so terrible, I think outside perspective (validation or criticism) is a good tool for progress, those "likes" can't be the reasons why. I don't want to live my life that way. I too want to do good work just for the sake of good work.
This blog is a chronicle of my intentions to do just that, passion by passion, brick by brick.