Work Meets Play

A friend and co-worker, Caroline Eberly, shares her essay about mixing labor and leisure. This piece first appeared on Story Matters, the digital expression of Journey Group, a Charlottesville creative agency.


Work Meets Play: An invitation to turn up my senses.


Looking out the window at this wide, dried-out wilderness, I have sympathy for the desert-crossers who have gone before me. The wayfaring types who pushed sand with feet to cover this bare country.

Just minutes before, I’d been considering the people of the future — those beings who might live in these shiny, oddly-shaped buildings, not built to human scale as I know it.

Enough far-off thoughts. Looking back at my French car mates, I ask, “What do you think of Dubai?”

“It’s nice,” Frederick says. “Just like the U.S., only warmer.”

Oof. I decide not to tell the kind tourist that this place feels not at all like my corner of the world, instead just smiling and facing forward again.

We’re leaving behind the steel and glass of the city, and driving toward low-lying mountains of sand. I’ll be writing an article about this desert safari, and I’ll need to use words to take readers back there with me. So the search for a metaphor begins.


What does this dune drive feel like…? No, it’s not a roller coaster. Not really even a bumpy jeep ride. It’s more fluid. Almost like being in the ocean, when waves roll you around at whatever wild angle they choose.

The caravan of cars in front of me: maybe a trail of ants. The way the driver describes steering through sand — “if you make fast movements, the wheels will get stuck”… does it speak of some desert philosophy?

I’d like to say that, as a writer, I’m always sharply attuned to the world around me — the phrases floating through my head destined to become poetry, the people standing in as characters in future stories. But my daily thoughts aren’t always so inspired.

Perhaps that’s best. It’d be exhausting to live in a constant state of rapture and attention. Yet I love journalism for its invitation to step into an experience with senses turned up, mind fully open.

If I wasn’t “on assignment,” I still would have enjoyed myself, maybe even more, and part of me wishes I didn’t have to pay such close attention. But then I might not have noticed my story’s characters, Frederick and his girlfriend Lo, jumping around in the sand as the sun sank, taking photos of each other in a familiar way that made me think we knew something of the same perspective after all.

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