I have been reading Sir Kenneth Robinson’s book The Element over the last couple of weeks. It is a great book about finding, and honoring, your true passion. Interestingly, I have seen the Aristotle quote above at least three times in the last week. I’m not necessarily one to assume fate or “things happen for a reason,” but I must admit that after the second or third sighting the meaning of the quote started to sink in. I have yet to figure my passion. I certainly don’t think, or want, what I currently, repeatedly, do to define me.
I work hard — repeatedly. However, I think that there’s a pretty bright line between doing something out of a sense of responsibility and doing something because of passion. Don’t get me wrong, I think that doing your best on your job is definitely something worth doing. It’s just not the same as working, even toiling, on something that is driven by love or an inner fire. Put plainly — passion. Perhaps I am writing this carefully so as not to lose my job (chortle); but, honestly, the more that I think about discovering my true passion, the less concerned I am with job security. I say this because I firmly believe that once I discover or realize what makes me tick, the pieces will come together. I will be off and running.
I have been slowly working my way through Robinson’s book because I feel like I have spent a lot of time daydreaming about becoming a full-time photographer. My interest has waned, rather significantly, over the past year, or so, though. I touched on this a bit in my Operation Twenty12 piece at the beginning of the year. A full nine months later, if I’m being honest with myself, I am probably even further away from than that daydream than I have been since first picking up a camera about eight years ago. The most telling sign is that I rarely pick up a camera any more just to shoot. I have tried to determine whether I am simply taking an easy exit. Is becoming a full-time photographer just too much work, and I’m being lazy? I don’t think so.
I truly believe that we will make, or put in, the effort for something we care about. I am unwilling to force myself to follow a particular path simply because I once thought it was “the thing.” I couldn’t care less about what others think about me changing my mind. Ok…that’s not true, but I’m getting there. You know how it is when you proclaim something? Everyone wants to hold you to that thing, and some are oddly intractable about your dream. The glass half full view is that people see something in you, or your work. They think that you’re skilled or proficient at that particular thing. Here’s the rub, though. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing…why bother? An Elbert Hubbard quote came to mind.
I am pretty certain that what dogs me the most is the idea that I am 46 years old and haven’t discovered, realized, or acknowledged my true passion. It seems like so many things interest me, yet not singular thing repeatedly draws me back. This may not be true, and I may need to learn how to tune in into my heart.
One of thing that seems to be quite clear is that I am truly struggling to find my “thing.” I am not merely looking for an escape from something I don’t like or work, generally. It is as if I am hungry but don’t know what to eat. I know, at this point, that I don’t want filler. I want substance. It is very unnerving trying to figure out just what will fill this void. It is hard to say that I am stuck in a rut, because my destination is not defined. The path to discovering my true passion is pretty much free to explore. As the father of a high school senior, it probably goes without saying that I have responsibilities and concerns about my son’s next steps (college) and future. However, I don’t see being a good parent and unearthing what will satiate my creative spirit as being mutually exclusive. In fact, I would like to think that my son would benefit from seeing me follow my heart and not accept living a life of cramming square pegs into round holes.
Surprisingly, I don’t really suffer from the more routine fear of failure, because you can’t fail at something you never start. At this point, my biggest fear is just that — never starting. I have to figure this out! I have reached a point, though, where I no longer want to make announcements or Aha! proclamations. No, I would much rather go about honing in on something that I just can’t do without, quietly, and make a habit of doing that thing repeatedly — and excellently.