Navigating Different Worlds
In the span of about two years, I've crossed into two different worlds. The first was the world of book publishing when I joined Ethos. The second, more recently, was the world of parenthood.
What demarcates a new world, and how do we know when we’ve crossed into one? For me, it’s when the landmarks are unfamiliar, the rules unknown. In both cases, I was excited about what lay ahead, and had some idea of what I would encounter, partly informed by proxy or related experiences. But it wasn’t until I landed squarely in the domain that I got a sense of how much more there was to grasp.
How could I have known the exact exertions to push a baby out, and once he was out, how to hydrate him enough to flush his dangerously high jaundice and to pack on weight so he'd hit a healthy percentile, while trying to build a halting breastmilk supply? I know it's just the start but in these few short months I've already encountered so much that I hadn't known.
And as I familiarised myself with the contours of a book production cycle—from the initial reading and evaluation of a manuscript or proposal, to big-picture editing, copyedits, typesetting, book launching and marketing, the managing of rights and permissions—I learned what it meant to infuse each milestone with care. I sought out markers along the way: check-ins with my colleagues, the authors, an inner sense of satisfaction that things were coming together.
How do you know where next to plant your foot when you’re in unknown territory? A quote by Seth Godin hangs upon our office door—a reminder every time we’re about to exit. It talks about how art is made, advising that when you don’t know where you’re going, use a compass, not a map. A map can’t guide you in areas that are unchartered, but a compass will aways direct you to what’s important, your true north.
And that sentiment is what I keep returning to whenever I wonder how to take the next step. No matter how alien it may feel, even if I have no idea how it'll land, if the intention behind it makes sense, I’ll just keep moving.
Perhaps something happened recently that led you into a new world, or perhaps you're preparing to cross into one; find comfort in knowing where your compass is pointed.