The News from the Workbench: December 10, 2016

EBJ Photography 2016

EBJ Photography 2016

Today began as so many mornings do, with the blaring noise of the alarm breaking the cool serenity of slumber. Once the hopes of further excursions in the dream-world subsided, I was able to rise from my bed and look out on the world in all its glory, lit by the soft morning rays of sun cutting through the icy winter chill. After my morning run, somewhat longer today at around five miles, I was sufficiently awake, present, and chipper to begin working once more. But this morning was different, because when I walked out the door this morning, I was eager to get going and start working on my writing and my musical work for the day. I haven’t felt this ambitious or motivated in six to eight months.

Today, I thought I would touch on some of what has made me return to the basics, the fundamentals of my art and also what has allowed me to keep going after all the struggle and pain of this year. Only recently have I been able to return to the process of my art, my writing, and my music after months of strife, lack of motivation, and insecurity with where my career path has been leading me. Though it is hard for me to admit, I think that my personal life and the circumstances of my life have affected my work and artistic life over the course of this year, something I will always be ashamed of.

The last months have been filled with a sort of longing for the piece of me that makes me unique, what makes me essentially me. Every hour of every day has been spent in search of something that can’t be found, unsure of the road forward or of how to create the life I want to live and the art I want to make. It has taken me months to realize that this is a journey that for all of us is uncertain and never-ending. Upon reflection, I have been able to find new comfort both in the doubt and unease and in the small daily routines that center my mind and push the days onward.

It has been through reading the works of great authors, listening to the music of great musicians, and admiring the artwork of the masters that I have been able to find my voice again. What I have realized is that this voice I have found within myself can only truly be found in the tireless awareness of myself and of my actions. True, my path is deeply intertwined with the stories and paths of many others, but only in self-knowledge and personal discovery may I find the stories which must be told, the ideas that have yet to hatch, and the memories that are so crucial in my psyche.

In the last week I have had a much needed reprieve from the day-to-day busy work and lists of tasks and appointments. Time spent alone—thinking, observing, and remembering—has reawakened my soul. I no longer search for the unique energy of my actions and thoughts or for where my path should lead; I now search within my own mind and body for that true self that we must all find inside. My true self drives me towards my passions and I have now found the motivation to work once more. Motivation comes not from how I think I am perceived, but in what really matters to me.

So I read, I write, I play music, and I think. My voice has returned for now and I must remember how I got here. I must recognize that when one gets past the petty, menial, daily slog, inner truth may emerge and the drive for love, storytelling, and immersive beauty will return.

That’s the news from the workbench this week…

-Ethan Brown Jones

Working Hard at Work Worth Doing

The hours go on and I sit in my office, working away, waiting for inspiration, and scratching away at one of my numerous drafting pads. Desk drawers full of notebooks, shelves full of books, and file boxes full of papers line my office- hopeful reminders of my past and decidedly present inspirations. Black pens quiver in anticipation of something new and truly great. Papers clutter the wide, seasoned desk, remnants of former busy nights.

The morning comes early, dreary, and cool. Promptly, I rise and get moving, eager to start working once again. After a quick run and then prepping for the day, it’s an hour or so of emails and notes. I write and play piano and design all morning, and then it’s off to a couple of meetings before coming back to the office for more creativity, more work, and especially, more coffee.

Theodore Roosevelt once said “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

I’ve always loved that quote and felt that it describes my life and goals in many ways. When I reread that quote, which is hung above my desk, I am reminded of why I spend long hours doing research and working on numerous projects. I remember that I am working to make the world more beautiful, more elegant, more equitable, and more loving.

Often in the course of our professional lives, we are forced to work on unnecessary, rather uninspired, and unworthy tasks. It is at these moments that we realize how rewarding it is to work away at things that are truly worthy of our efforts. For, lest we turn into lonely, saturnine individuals, we must work every day to ensure that all of our energy is utilized in making the world a better place.

When I finally fall to sleep in the deepest hours of the night, I always try to look back on the day with gratitude, but also with austere, censorious meticulousness. Because the day I lose those compulsions toward detail- especially as it is corollary to the beneficialness of activities, is the day that my efforts and my work will no longer be worthwhile.

I pride myself on my constant pursuit of my better self, yet I am also forlorn when I look back upon the mistakes of my past. And so, it is with regret, but also motivation, that I go about my work, striving for greatness, but not getting lost without the most-important, larger picture. Work is only worth doing when it is done with the utmost passion and impressive scrupulousness. At no other time will work be worthwhile, no matter the honorability or meritoriousness of the work itself. It is what each of us instills in our daily duties that gives our lives meaning and gives relevance to the words of Theodore Roosevelt.

If nothing else, we owe it to ourselves to nurture our lives through thoughtfulness and hard work. One day, we too may look back and see that our endeavors were worthwhile. If nothing else, it’s something to strive for.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Audrey Brooke

the-view-from-the-penthouse-at-dawn

Cool, crisp, blue-gray air buffeted Audrey as she slipped out the front doors of her apartment building. She walked quickly on the way to the subway, conscious-as-ever of the work that lay ahead of her. The office was just three subway stops south, and given that she was virtually alone on the train, it didn’t take long before she was strutting up the hard cement steps and into the cold, New York winter air.

It was 5:30 AM to the second as Audrey glided up the icy front steps in her red leather pumps and black fur coat. She was a very punctual person, and the fact that it was a cold winter day was no excuse for tardiness. The lobby was deserted and virtually silent except for the harsh click of her heels on the mosaicked floor. She greeted the doorman cordially and strutted on, eager for the day to begin. After a lengthy elevator ride, she stepped briskly out and, arm outstretched in anticipation, slid the key smoothly into the shining silver lock.

The warm office lighting glittered on, as if it had been excitedly awaiting her arrival. And for a woman like Audrey Brooke, things always awaited her arrival. The view was lovely as it always was in the early mornings, Manhattan at its finest, she liked to say. Her purse bounced gently and quickly found a comfortable resting place on the side table against the wall. Her office was spotless as usual, she liked it that way.

Audrey looked stunning as always, red leather pumps, a black Vuitton bag, a light-mint dress that met her perfectly at every curve (not that there were many), and a glistening sliver necklace with matching earrings and bracelets.

It was typical Monday morning, if that were a real thing in the office of one of the most powerful people on the planet. Editor-in-Chief was the official title inscribed on her door, but she was so much more than that.  The black leather furniture and imposing adornment of decorations in her office hinted at the level of her power.

She was an elegantly dazzling young woman with golden brown hair and piercing blue eyes. She was effortlessly tall, strikingly authoritative, and above all, poised and charismatic.

The largest publishing company in the world, Brookestone, lay in her hands and her hands only; she liked that- being in charge. But what went unsaid in this office was the fact that Audrey Brooke was about to become not only the most powerful woman in publishing, but also one of the most powerful women in the entire world.

Audrey had the check signed and everything was in place for one of the largest buyouts in history. Audrey Brooke, the woman whom so many had forgotten when she was young, was about to show the world that she ran the news, the magazines, the books, the internet, and so much more.

Audrey Brooke was finally going to get what she waited so long for, and everyone else, well, they would get what they had coming soon enough.

Audrey’s blue eyes seared through the glass as she felt the warmth of the immense power she was about to gain course through her veins. Nothing could stop her now, and nothing would. For beneath that saccharine veil lay a much darker personality, one that was willing to kill, one that would use any means possible to get its way.

This was what Audrey thought about as she stared out onto the world in the earliest hours of dawn.

Today was her day, hers, or no one’s.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones