Lessons from a coffee mug on a rainy evening

by hexacoto

miloThis evening, as I was sending out more job applications, I decided to make myself a cup of hot cocoa (technically, I made Milo, which is chocolate malt). After a while, I looked at my mug, and I realised that I could see the reflection of the ceiling lights off of the rim of the mug. I decided to look closer and then I noticed the edge of foam that looked like it was climbing out the side of the mug. Other things I noticed were that where spoon touched the liquid, the area around it was slightly darkened, and that the shadow of the top of the mug formed a neat crescent that bisected the cocoa.

I’ve never stared so hard at a mug of cocoa before, and I reckoned if I could see all these individual layers of detail, I must be able to illustrate them out.

I spent a long time trying to replicate each feature accurately: its colour, its location, its details. But after a while, staring so hard at these features, I started to forget that they were actually part of a mug of cocoa. In my excitement at being able to see fine detail, I forgot what the whole thing was.

Have I been similar in my job search? Although I’m trained in journalism and my speciality is international news, focusing only on getting positions that will land you where you were trained to do might have you forget that what you really want to do is write. Maybe applying for business writing isn’t a bad thing. Maybe writing about technology isn’t an end-all (But heavens forbid you write for the New York Post). What you need to be doing is to be moving, because you (I mean me, this is me speaking in second-person again) are currently being stagnant, and that needs to change.

Like what you teach people in unicycling, “Always keep moving. If you stop, you fall.” I should learn to take my own advice more often.

Persisting in fine-graining my search yielded the above snazzy illustration of my mug, but the hot cocoa turned cold, and became slightly less satisfying on this rainy, rainy evening.

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