This content was published first in The Sunday Letters Journal: https://sundayletters.larrygmaguire.com/p/becoming-magnolia by Larry G. Maguire on Thu, 06 Apr 2023 08:23:53 GMT
Magnolia was the standard in the 80s and 90s, maybe even beyond that. Any commercial painter will tell you that this was the go-to of every decorator or builder who was merely interested in getting the job done. It’s cheap, and it’s everywhere, and if you just need to get a coat on the walls, then Magnolia was yer man. To use something other than that required thought, consideration, creativity and planning.
Writing is like that. As I sit in front of this machine, I know where I need to go to avoid magnolia. I consider the depths to which I need to descend in myself to produce something of any value to you, and I turn away from it. Then nothing is written. I get nothing, and readers get nothing, either. The walls are left bare.
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We know what kind of work we want to do. We know the kind of work that gets attention without trying. The paradox is that when we have little or no concern for what others think and do it from a place of intrinsic motivation, there’s a greater chance of it carrying meaning and value than otherwise. It’s the stuff we would do even if we weren’t getting paid for it.
So why don’t we do it? What’s the problem?
Well, it’s kind of like the way we’ve been schooled to think and feel…if the work doesn’t produce a measurable value now or very soon from now, what’s the point? And what’s the point of spending hours or even a couple of days on something that few or nobody we ever see?
In a world that’s about to be overrun by machine-made content that offers nothing different from everything else, there is an imperative for humans to write and share their novel ideas. To be thoughtful, considerate, and creative.
The ideas I have to share are related to work—commanding one’s own work. It’s nothing new, people have been writing about this for a long time, but I’m passionate about it, so it feels like it needs an outlet. I believe there’s little purpose in life unless we do this. Otherwise, we merely blend into the background like a trillion other people. We become magnolia.
After all, work is what we get up to do every day. It’s what makes the world and is an integral part of our individual and collective identity. Better to create that for ourselves rather than turning the wheel for some corporation that doesn’t give two shits about us anyway. They want us to be predictable and dependable. They need us to meet the standard set by someone else.
AI will soon replace much of the mundane work we are doing. It’s already doing it. So where does that leave us? Perhaps with the chance to be something other than Magnolia?
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