Saturday, April 10, 2010

musings on passion

I have been pondering a post in response to a comment made to me by one of my yoga teachers a week or so ago. As I was leaving the studio she asked me what I was planning to do for the weekend. I said "work, but it's just fine. I work all the time and I don't mind". She asked what I do, and I told her I am a self-employed artist. She sighed and said I was so lucky to be able to live my passion.


And that is so, so very different than what most people think about it. I believe WHAT I do is important for me in that it is what feels most resonant with my spirit at this time. It has brought me enormous challenges and suffering. It has brought me so much joy.

And everything in-between.

But is that living my passion?

I don't know.

I have now, and in the past, many things I love to do. Many things I feel passionate about.

I take great risks with my life to follow a commitment to live according to the resonance of my spirit, my soul, my being.

That comes at a great price. It's not luck.

And it has nothing (nothing!) to do with simply "doing what feels good!"

In my experience, living according to resonance with my "higher self" (or whatever one might call it) means working much harder for less "worldly" reward than if I were working in a more mainstream realm.

I pay a high price. I have chosen it my very own self. I have no retirement, no paid sick leave or vacations. No security whatsoever. I have to practice staying "in the flow" in order to make things that people want to buy. I don't convince them, I don't "market", I just make things and put them into the world. If people want them, they buy them. My "security" (such that it is) hangs on a thread every moment.

And I have no one to blame if I don't like my job. I cannot claim to be the victim of a bad boss, the victim of not being paid enough, the victim of not being valued.

Something about that feels very clean. There are no smoke or mirrors. No marketing illusions. No manipulation of other people's desires whatsoever.


And precarious.

I have NO idea if I have set myself up to be an old, broke and homeless woman.

I wish that weren't a fear.

But I keep choosing and learning to follow the little glimmers of resonance. I keep working on doing it better, with deeper integrity and more skill.

Passion? Yes, I guess it is. But it's also so much more than a word and the simple meaning usually associated with it.

I love it. But I don't necessarily love the "stuff" of it: hours sandblasting, days and days of repetitive work, stress of cash flow (flowing the Wrong Way), having my home be a factory, exhaustion, never completing the list of tasks...

So it's not about "getting to be an artist" in the sense of the daily tasks.

I think it's a mindset. An attitude. A commitment. And a choice to love the moments. To feel grateful.

I think perhaps I've chosen this life because I don't want to be asleep through my life--and this life I've chosen definitely compels me to be awake and deeply alive, or I won't survive in it.

These are all just musings.... I think I need to go for my run and clear all the words out of my head!

And there is still this (see? I told you there were a lot of words!):

This morning my assistant T. posted something on her blog in response to a comment someone made about her job. My comments are related to what I just wrote about above, so I decided to combine them into one post.

If you would, go read her post HERE.

And then my response to her post:

It is strange isn't it? I'll have to write a blog post about it from my perspective as well sometime. But I think it has something to do with the pervasive and habitual belief that it is only if one suffers can it be really called "work."

So often talking about one's job or work becomes a contest to convince the other about how much one suffers. That certainly bleeds over into the perceived reality, and soon is practiced enough so that suffering becomes the very definition of work. If you have the audacity to express enjoyment of your work, you will likely not be taken seriously because "if you are not suffering you are not really working." If you described it all couched in misery you would get more credibility I think.

But then I'd have to fire you.

Not because of you, but because it would infect me. And I have to keep MY mind as clearly focused on the positive and on gratitude as I am able. Otherwise, this ship would sink. In a heartbreak. (I meant to write "in a heartbeat, but heartbreak is probably more apt).

EVERYTHING we do here could be seen as tedious, uncomfortable, physically exhausting, frustrating, etc.

In some ways we can feel lucky that it comes with a title of making "art" so that we have a larger door through which we can walk into the realm of appreciation of all the little parts of it that bring us pleasure, even joy.

We believe that all the little things really count toward the whole, the outcome.

We have daily evidence of that.

Even (or especially?) for me, the "artist", the boss, there is SOOOO much WORK. I have often tried hard to get people to understand that, as they discount my own struggles and exhaustion by saying "well, you are getting to be an artist, so it doesn't count". I could talk about how hard I work, how many hours I spend doing things that are physically harsh, emotionally taxing, and require incredible discipline to keep doing them over and over and over and over...

But if I spend my time thinking that way, I'll start to believe it, and it will steal my joy.

I actually believe that everyone can decide where to focus their attention. To appreciate, to practice gratitude (and yes, I know it's a cliche, but that doesn't make it less powerful).

I think it IS easier in an environment of my own creation, because I can't pretend I am the victim here. No one is making me do all this work. I have no boss, no corporation to blame.

I made the choice, I take all the risks myself, it's all my responsibility, I have no safety net, and I have no one to blame. I'd better make the best of it all, and enjoy every bit I can!

I think it can be easier when one approaches it with the kind of appreciation for the little joys and glimmers, as you do, T. And I KNOW that attitude is worth protecting. Even if it means others will think your work doesn't really count.

Because it's every moment of every day that matter. We can live them with a focus on the discomfort, or on the joy. And what we choose to focus on becomes the reality we experience in each moment.

Ok. I guess I just wrote my blog post.
Longest comment you've ever gotten I bet!


  1. BRAVO!!
    It takes a brave soul to find and then actually live your true life.

    Great post.

  2. thank you handandspirit. Scary, yes. But there is plenty of evidence out there that taking the "safe" route isn't necessarily safe either. Might as well go for it, no?

  3. You are is a choice and every choice has its price.
    For the sake of my family I have chosen security rather than to make work my passion and the price is very high.
    Good for you for daring!
    Take care.

  4. Purple Cow: I couldn't agree more. Every choice does indeed have it's price, and the price is always high I think. At least for creative types. I was on my soapbox from my perspective, and I appreciate being reminded. Not having a family is probably the biggest reason I have the luxury of this option... choices & prices, any way you look. Be well on your path!

  5. Yes, Melinda -- take joy (remember?)!
    It certainly is work, but of a different kind than work that is determined by others (= "fremdbestimmt", though it certainly can't really be separated from them, because it also has to sell...). Konfucius said "Make your passion your profession, then you'll never have to work", which is probably what those others referred to; I guess it really is a question of definition -- of work, of passion, of sacrifice and price, and even of choice (how much of that do we really have?). Anyway, I couldn't agree more with you and also T. If it comes down to it, it has to make sense to you (and others) and give your life the meaning you want to color your life with (and the one of others!). You, yourself -- not others. By the way, you've always done that, in one way or another, more or less. More and more.
    Lots of love and joy,

  6. Yes Eva, I remember "Take Joy" as if it were yesterday. (Odd the way Time works, especially these days, as we get older).
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments, and I send back at least as much love and joy to you as well!

  7. I sent you an email about a little film I saw the other day, very good little documentary about "staying in flow"; made me think of this post of yours again... which I've been thinking about a lot, anyway.