On Just Looking


“Do you need help cobbling together a career from Deepak Chopra quotes and travel photos on Tumblr?”

“No thanks, I’m just looking!”


From about the time I started watching lady Jesus Oprah, I’ve been looking for clues to creating my best life. In recent years, that life has been muddier, and one of the things I thought I wanted most — becoming a famous singer — started to lose its sheen. (I think the “famous” and “singer” are alright; it’s the “becoming,” after two starving years in LA, that lost me.)

Probably not coincidentally, I started Pinterest and Tumblr around the same time. Looking at travel photography and delectably-staged cheeseburgers and jaw-dropping Tuscan villas had me captivated for hours. I’m not even into fashion, yet shots of impeccably dressed women held me in rapture, without any real desire to mimick the look myself. To be sure, I don’t really want 20 different refurbished Victorian barns either, I just get a high when I look at them all.

Of course, in my mind I’m going “What does this mean? Do you want to become an interior designer?” I used to love fantasizing about house design when I was younger, but I don’t see that as my career. “Well, what about fashion? Do you want to be a designer? A buyer?” Mmm, I don’t think yoga pants and souvenir tees a designer make.

So if not a means to a financial or self-actualizing end, what of these interests?

Now this might be where you and I differ. My whole life I’ve tried to assign meaning to everything. My writing, my singing, even just *listening* to music had to be a sign. (Professional music listener! Yea!) There is no pure joy in my world where the universe isn’t conspiring to bring me into nirvana.

But I don’t know, maybe that unadulterated joy derived from surfing food porn *is* nirvana. Maybe the joy *is* the end. Maybe I’m tripping myself up looking for a meaning deeper than the enjoyment of looking. I’ve been trying to figure out how the joy can be applied or enhanced or monetized or pitched as a docuseries for the OWN Network.

And maybe…it’s just joy.

Somewhere along the way I picked up the belief that joy is a clue to discovering what you *really* want in life. You like to sing? You should be a singer! You’re so argumentative, you should be a lawyer! You love volunteering – have you thought about starting a charity? I can’t be the only one whose well-meaning friends and family have brainstormed careers for them based on their interests. And this isn’t wrong or bad, but I know I’ve lost sight of doing things (other than maybe watching TV) for the sheer enjoyment of doing those things. I’m always pitching, always planning, always tying myself up in entrepreneurial knots, probably missing the point, which is…there is no point to this.

But let’s do it anyway.

Hold on while I go check my reblogs,

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