Joy’s soul lies in the doing.
— William Shakespeare

About ten years ago I was on a little ferry ride with my friend Chris. We were returning from a day spent wandering around a touristy island looking at shops and having lunch and talking about writing and relationships and politics and whatever else came up. We were quiet now as our boat bumped along through the waves. Chris loved boats and the ocean. When we were roommates thirty years ago and we had nothing to do he’d suggest we go down to the marina and look at all the sailboats. I’d say okay because I didn’t care where we were as long as we were hanging around together. In fact, I didn’t particularly like touristy islands either, but I still had a good time that afternoon.

Chris was sitting at the bow of the boat watching the island recede. “Bill wouldn’t it be great to get some bikes and just bring them out here and ride around up in those hills above the town?”

I glanced back toward the island. He was describing another day-trip, only one with less time for conversation. I liked bikes, but thinking about it I realized I didn’t like day-trips. I’d just as soon stay home. The problem was I didn’t like disagreeing with my friends. I had the quiet notion that if I didn’t do what they wanted to do they wouldn’t want to hang around with me. But I had just quit a job I’d never particularly liked, and I was feeling differently about things that afternoon.

“Not really,” I said. “I mostly just like talking to people. That’s always my favorite thing to do.”

Chris nodded and sat back against the bow. Apparently, we were still friends. I turned and watched the approaching shore, thinking about how much I liked a good conversation. Also writing, I thought, though that’s like talking’s close cousin. I had recently run across the Shakespeare quote about joy’s soul. The Bard was right about that, but you shouldn’t get too fixated on the doing, I thought. A friendship, a story, or a conversation with a stranger were just vessels. It’s their cargo I love, no matter what port those vessels deliver me.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.