A few years and one house ago I noticed a Japanese Barberry bush in an arrangement at the local nursery. I was so captivated by it's burgundy beauty that I purchased 3 to plant on the side of my garage. The result was "okay." The shrub that that was so gorgeous in the middle of a planned arrangement at the nursery was unimpressive when planted beside more of itself.
Those of you who are gardeners/designers recognized my mistake immediately - by repeating one element over and over, the features that made it beautiful/special became lost. I neglected to juxtapose my shrubs with complementary plants that would showcase their burgundy beauty. Without contrast my garden had no interest to hold and direct the eye.
The concept of juxtaposition is an important one for us to remember when planning our careers. I get concerned with some career advice I read out there that suggests that the path to fulfillment is to find a way to get someone to pay you for "doing what you love." Too often now I have seen friends and colleagues try to turn a hobby into a career and end up crashing and burning emotionally and financially. I think it's because when they focus on "following their bliss" they end up with lives that lack the joy of juxtaposition.
I love what Mary Pipher says in her book Shelter of Each Other:
"Most of the unhappiness in the world is caused by people who are 90 percent happy, going for that last 10 percent."
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't think it's such a bad thing if you don't enjoy every single minute of your work. It's normal, and even a good thing. The stresses of our jobs and the challenges of dealing with difficult people can all serve to create a personal showplace for the things in our lives that we love - our hobbies, our families, and our friends. When we think of our work situation in this way, it becomes easier to accept the normal stresses of working in an organization with others who feel, think, and see things differently than we do as a natural part of life.
I've since moved from the house where I planted the 3 barberry bushes. Here in my new home my kitchen window overlooks my neighbor Mary's lovely, lovely yard. In one bed she has a single barberry bush surrounded by a blue spruce, a rhododendron, and some ferns. The effect is simply stunning - especially right after it rains. It gives me great joy to stand at my kitchen sink and admire the contrast and interest in how her plants are arranged - and it reminds me daily to be grateful for the contrasts I get to experience in my work!