Ratios and BBQ Pork

Published November 01, 2019

In David Chang’s latest series, “Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner” ep. 1, Chang is chatting with Seth Rogan over some BBQ pork. Seth is telling David about his accidental production company getting bigger than what he intended when they started. He says,

But, like, the thing that I am best at is writing. That’s it. Out of all the shit I do, I am the best writer.

David emphathizes with this, telling Seth all he really wants to do is create recipes and work with food.

But, I get stuck doing all this other shit.

Then he looks down at the table and he says, “I should only be working with food.”

There was a lot of self-inflicted pressure after leaving my last position to continue building even larger teams and leave Design behind for Design Management instead. It has become clearer to me that when pulled away from my craft, I start to feel very unsettled.

This split is subtle and is hard to see because I also acknowledge I’ve liked the adjustments in my career well enough. On some days I catch myself telling people it’s a natural progression, whatever that means.

Seth tells David he still likes acting when he does. He likes working with people. David compliments him on his acting. Seth still thinks he should be a writer and he wants to change the ratio. And while they are having this conversation on a tiny screen from the past, I was sitting in my office working on a new interface for Jupiter past working hours.

Management can be a fulfilling role. You work on the hardest set of problems available: how people work and work together. You also have the opportunity to pass on what you’ve learned, help people sort through their mistakes, and learn a lot about yourself in the meantime.

Yet, it still doesn’t erase what feels like a celestial pull of my desk in the evenings or that habit I have of getting into conversations with people about how they operate the minutiae of their working lives. This habit explains a lot of my career and how I spend my leisure time. I ‘work’ in my leisure time because this won’t shut off and I don’t want it to.

I’ve never really been able to relate much to those who talk about balance. Work is fulfillment and fulfillment is work. I’ve stopped trying to “figure it out.” Fighting against nature is a fruitless exercise in exhaustion. For people who feel the same way, burnout has very little to do with the amount of hours worked. I think it has a lot to do with ratios.

The majority of the time I should only be working with design.