Today I wrapped up two projects which have consumed much of my work year, Rene’s blank.page and another anonymous client. René is a good friend and a great client, and I sometimes write brief quips about him on this work log.
I wish I could do the same with my anonymous client. The project lasted nearly a year, and we communicated through email exclusively. There were no zoom meetings, no chat messages, no kanban boards, simply a back and forth of hundreds of emails. Occasionally, we’d append a question to the end of our business emails: How is the weather where you live? Oh, you can’t practice X because it’s rainy season? What are you doing instead? And so on.
Through this year long email interchange we got acquainted with each other quite well, and in our last email exchange there were mixed feelings: we were both relieved about completing the project, but also a bit sad because our email correspondence would end. One might argue that the end of a business relationship does not imply the end of a personal relationship, but when work binds a relationship it is inevitable that the relationship cools down when work ceases to be common ground.
Today was the third day working with my father at his home office. I come in the morning and leave at 5pm, after having lunch with him and his family. Most of the time we are focused on our own thing, and if our interactions were condensed into a time block, it would last 20 to 30 minutes per work day. But what I appreciate most is not our conversations, but sharing silence and focus.
As I write this I notice there is a challenge to be overcome: I’m warming up into a new relationship with my father, which will cool down when I cease coming to work with him—or better said, in his presence, because we work at the same time, but not together.
I understand the destination of this train of thought: it is not inevitable that personal relationships are severed once work ends, but at the same time we are all busy people who love to work. The art to be learned is how to nurture personal relationships without taking time or focus away from our respective creative or business endeavors.