Wanted: Enthusiasm

Today I applied for a job as a cheesemaker’s assistant in the making of artisan goat cheeses. I was very up front in my cover letter that nothing in my previous work experience has prepared me for this type of position. However, along with my generally high competencies, I highlighted aspects of my enthusiasm for cheese. For example, my favorite dessert these days is a selection of three cheeses complemented by fruit and nuts. I own a book about cheese (I do still need to read it, but I have stared it). I directed a play about an old man who loves cheese so much that he neglects his family. I would rather make cheese for a living over the much more popular making of wine. I even talk frequently these days about starting a cheesemaking operation. This work is probably in my blood, since my mother grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm. Finally, I get along well with farm animals, and especially with goats.

Still and all, I don’t have direct experience making cheese. For a while after learning about the opening, I tried set it aside and out of my head as a completely impractical option. The paper with the job description sat on my desk waiting to be recycled. But the possibility kept tempting me, especially in light of all my recent talk about making cheese and starting a cheese farm. And then, just before I pulled up a blank document and composed my cover letter, a realization struck me: life decisions motivated primarily by pragmatism have rarely made me happy. The most fulfilling consequences have resulted from impulse and instinct. Here are some things in life that I would never have attempted if practicality had dictated the terms:

  • starting a theatre company
  • going to graduate school
  • reading self-composed poetry to a girl outside her window
  • getting on stage
  • dating my amazing girlfriend
  • traveling through Australia in a beat-up van
  • meeting one of my best friends

These are just the major ones. There are dozens of beautifully quixotic minor actions for each one listed here. Most of them proved that reward is worth the risk many times over. All furnished invaluable experience at the very least; memories that stick in your bones rather than money that hides in your pocketbook. And yet remembering to let bliss move us is difficult with each new and unfamiliar scenario. I’m pleased that I applied to be a cheesemaker’s helper today. Hopefully I’ll be working with the goats soon.

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