It's an old saw on the golf course: "Your worst day golfing is better than your best day working."
For me that's never been true. My worst days golfing are bad, because I feel like I'm wasting my time, and my best days working are fantastic, because I feel at one with the universe.
There are dreary days at the keyboard, but exhilaration happens every week: a far-out story idea is accepted, an interview turns out better than I thought, a story (finally) goes to bed, the issue comes out, something I write generates an unexpected conversation among strangers.
But how many truly wonderful days have I spent working?
Those, in my experience, happen about once per decade.
It's November 1995, and I'm lying on the sofa in Larry Ragan's office at 3:00 a.m., trying to grab a few hours sleep before the graphic designer comes in to lay out the memorial issue I've been working on in the days since he died. I'm using all the skills my mentor taught me in order to honor him. As I try to sleep through the coffee buzz, I think of the line in a James Taylor song, "No one can tell me that I'm doing wrong today."
On a wintry day in 2002, I'm riding in a rusty GMC Jimmy with a struggling standup comic I'm profiling for the Chicago Tribune's Sunday Magazine. We're headed for a two-night gig at a Holiday Inn in Eau Clair, Wis. I'm inhaling the fumes from his Nicorette gum, asking him how he prepares beef stroganoff on a hot plate, and thinking to myself that my competition is exactly no one, because I'm the only asshole in the world who thinks this is heaven.
In spring of this year, I'm holding my first "speechwriting jam session" at a speechwriters conference in Phoenix. I'm playing great speeches and watching the eyes of the writers in the audience fill, as my own eyes fill, as I remember my dead writer dad, who agreed with all of us that communication and love are the same thing.
What was your best moment at work? Communicate it to us.