So much in our world leads to misery and drudgery. We spend our days in a 9-to-5 job (if we're lucky) and try so hard to make ends meet, and for what? To wake up in the morning and do the same thing over and over again. Our lives become the instructions on a shampoo bottle: Lather, rinse, repeat. And the sad part is, few of us know how to escape the monotony. It becomes far too easy to fall into a rut, which leads to stagnation, which leads to depression, which leads to doing stupid things when you feel you've hit your "mid-life crisis."
A very wise person (Confucius) is credited with saying "Do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life." A wonderful sentiment, and not one that I entirely agree with (later in the post, I'll explain), but a concept I do hold dear. He was talking about finding your passions.
A passion isn't just a hobby. It's not something you do when you're bored. It's not something you do when you have nothing else to do. It's something that gets you fired up. Something that turns you on. Something that you consider doing on your lunch break because it makes you feel good. Passions are the things that drive us. They define us, make us who we are, make us better people.
But, I hear you say, what does this have to do with writing?
Easy. Writing is, for me, a passion. It's a job, sure, but it's also something that I steal moments to do. It's something that shakes me to my core, grabs my heart, and pushes me to be better than I thought I could be. Writing is not just fun, it's exhilarating.
According to an article in Forbes, the overwhelming majority of people don't have a passion, and that's just sad. To have a passion about something, anything, is to define what it means to be human. People without passion are, to my mind, dead inside. They're just taking up space until their body catches up to their soul. Look out your window and see if you can tell who does and who doesn't have a passion or two in their lives. The ones that don't? Zombies. Glassy-eyed, just going through the motions, don't give a damn if they live or die, zombies.
Now, that doesn't mean you can only have one. Unless you are a cripplingly simple person, it's normal to have several passions. I have quite a few. Writing, obviously, is top of the list, but it's far from my only obsession. I'm passionate about music. Ever go through life with a soundtrack running in your head? Would the loss of your iPod not be so tragic because you have every song in it memorized and you can still hear them, even when you don't have earbuds in? Can you not walk past a musical instrument without touching it? Congratulations. That's me too. Cooking, to me, is also a passion. I have a strange philosophy about cooking… It's the ultimate way of saying "I love you." See, your body needs food to survive, so by cooking for you, I'm saying "Hey, I want you to continue to live!" I'm also developing passions for other types of art and for riding my motorcycle. I'm also quite passionate about teaching. But there is one passion that rules them all: My kids. I'm truly crazy about my daughters.
Now, I'm not saying to quit your job and only follow what you love to do. The vast majority of us (myself included) can't make a living at our favorite things. Especially not at first. This is where Confucius and I differ. I'm of the opinion that the daytime 9-to-5er serves a purpose. It allows us to feed our families, for one. But those jobs do not define us. The things we do after our doors have closed for the day that makes us who we are.
So how do we find them? Simple: By trying new things. Go to a craft store and pick up a block of Sculpy (it's really cheap) and see if you enjoy it. Read a recipe and try your hand at cooking. See if you can figure out how to micro-brew the greatest beer in the world (and then call me). Open your eyes and see what drives you. Chances are, there are others just like you with similar passions.
And, since this is my writing blog, you may be wondering how this relates to writing. Simple. If it's not something you're passionate about, maybe it's not for you. This is a hard career choice. It's brutal. it's painful. The respect you get from it can be measured in the palm of a child's hand. But if it's something you are passionate about, if it brings you joy, if it is a genuine fun experience, stick to it. If you thrill with every rejection letter, if you celebrate your friends' publishing victories while secretly harboring jealousy, if you giggle at the thought of putting words on a page, if you catch yourself stealing moments from your day to scribble notes about a plot line that hasn't happened yet, or staying up late to get "just one more line" out on paper, then congratulations. You've found your passion.
You know my passions. Leave yours in the comments.