Yesterday, I was having a conversation with someone about work. I told them I felt guilty when I wasn’t working, but then said that part of doing the kind of work I do involved having new experiences — in short, basically, not working.

She asked me how that made any sense, and I had to break work down into two things — passive work, which is the nature of experience; and active work, which is the nature of using that experience to inform something tangible.

The tangible thing could take any form — written, aural, visual. But without experience, something with which to give it its life, it would likely be uninspired and uninteresting. Actually living, that is where a lot of great work comes from.

It’s like young artists and that old adage: you haven’t lived enough to truly know pain.

Still, you do feel a pang of guilt, because you can’t sell things that are just swirling around in your head. At some point you do need to sit down and get it out, put the tangible thing together, so that you have something to show for all that you did.

There is heartache, sure, but there is also the work itself. These days, does anyone know the difference? Does anyone care? I’m not so sure.

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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