How Come Work Doesn’t Imitate Art?

Friday, February 15th, 2013

How Come Work Doesn’t Imitate Art?

Last Tuesday I heard one of the finest concerts I have ever heard in my life. (And I have gone to lots of concerts over the years.) It was the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansons. They played Mahler’s First Symphony.  I love that piece of music and have heard fine recordings of it, but this was something else. Transcendent isn’t a word I use very often, but I don’t have other words to describe that sublime experience. (Other performances that are still vibrantly alive in my memory: hearing Karl Richter conduct the Bach B Minor Mass, John Coltrane’s quartet performing A Love Supreme live, and seeing Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff stand out.)

Then I thought about the world of work. How come I have never been in a meeting that had a similar impact on me? I know that art is different, but why? I certainly have felt engaged, productive, proud, believing that I was making a difference, etc. when I worked on some projects. And those are all good things, of course, but nothing like the experience of being in the presence of that orchestra with that conductor playing that piece of music. Why is that so?

This is the paragraph where another writer might tell you the answer to that question. But I’ve got to say, I don’t know why. But I do believe that chewing on the question might be useful (at least for me.) It seems like the world of work could occasionally touch us in similar ways. And perhaps it does for you. I would love your comments.


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