At the beginning of 2017 I took over the operation of a pay-what-you-can vegan lunch café here in the heart of meat-and-potatoes Midwest America. On December first, I gave myself a daily blogging challenge to write about this café, to tell its story, and maybe figure out a little of my own story in the process. This is the final post, #31.

All this time I thought I was writing about the café.

Well, I was.

But it turns out I was also writing about the meta stuff: right livelihood, and being in the flow of something you don’t quite understand and aren’t quite sure of, letting it guide you. Letting it seek its own level, express its own logic.

Also: I’ve been writing about finding a reason to get up and go to work every day, because for most of us, that’s our life.

Having a job you like is a rare thing. A job that suits you, that you look forward to returning to after some time away – not because you’re bored or otherwise at loose ends in your off hours, but because the work is one expression of who and what you are, and you need to spend time with all the whos and whats that you are in order to fully inhabit your life.

With respect to right livelihood, the question people like to ask is, “Would you do it if you didn’t get paid for it?” That’s has always seemed to me to be the wrong question, a fantasy question. Not without value as a thought experiment, but not very useful when it comes down to figuring out what we actually need from our jobs. Because pretty much all of us need to get paid.

So what is useful? Data.

The best comes in the form of lived experience. What does it feel like to actually do the thing?

Here’s a surprise: we don’t always like what we think we’re going to like. The idea of the thing is not the thing. Have we had this conversation already?

Anyway, I now have a bit of data. And it’s the end of the month. And tomorrow begins a new year. Let’s see what happens next.