An unabashed fan of artist/illustrator/writer Maira Kalman (I have a copy of “My Mother’s Beautiful Map” hanging in my cubicle here at work), I offer you this pre-assignment Kalman has given illustration students in a class she is teaching this summer.
… take a half hour walk every day for ten days. Without cell phones, just walk and observe what’s around you for half an hour. And I am sure—I’m very sure—that asking them to spend half an hour without a cell phone is like asking them to take their clothes off. No cell phones, no cup of coffee—just take a solitary walk. If you want to be pretentious about it, Immanuel Kant is famous for taking his walk everyday at 3:30 P.M., so I suggested that time to them. It’s a good time of day; it’s a little bit tired, a little bit sleepy time of day.
We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.