On carpentry and college

By NINA MACLAUGHLIN  |  October 20, 2011

In approaching your college career, study what you love. Find the best teachers. Figure out ways to engage your mind and hands outside of the lecture halls and the seminars. Put yourself in situations that make you a little uncomfortable, that you don't think you're going to be good at. Performance artist Marina Abramovic puts it this way: "Nobody's ever been changed by doing things they like . . . Because the things you don't like, the things you're afraid of, the things that are unknown  that's really the interesting stuff." That's when you learn the most.

Without getting all fruity and yoga class, the trick is finding balance. Work is a grind. There can be a dullness to it. When, in those moments of tedium, when you feel useless and cosmically bored, when you wonder why you're here, when you question Isn't there more to being alive than this?, in those moments, to be able to return to fragments of your education, to remember what Hesiod said about beekeeping or what Jung said about synchronicity, to be able to draw on different parts of your mind and activate the link between what your brain knows and what your body knows, and how both can stand to learn so much more, to being able to make sense of the small and real in front of you and the huge and real around you, this is what will help get you through the days, shifting work, in its finest moments, from a grind to a glory.

Nina MacLaughlin blogs at carpentrix.tumblr.com.

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