I came across this video a while ago and I often re-watch it for inspiration. It's an excerpt from a speech made by Alan Watts, a philosopher, writer and speaker. Every single time I watch the video it reminds of just how important it is to pursue your passion, no matter what that may be. The message perfectly captures what I have always believed at the fiery core of who I am and what drives my decisions. Doing anything other than pursuing something you love is stupid; you are literally wasting the only life you have to live.
I will admit, it's not an easy choice to make, in fact it's downright scary. For many, the pursuit of their passions means not having a clear answer on how to live the comfortable life we're all lead to believe is the pinnacle of achievement in society. When faced with this uncertainty doubt begins to creep in. You will tell yourself that you'd never be good enough, that there is no way to succeed down that path, others will echo the same old "you can't make a living doing that" rhetoric, parents will caution you to go after the "sure thing" so stop being foolish, and our society as a whole will be against you at times. More often than not, people will give up on their passion. After all, it's too difficult to face that kind of pressure and better to live a life of mediocrity so long as it's comfortable, right?
Not even a little bit. I've been going after my passions for close to a decade now, and while I haven't experienced any kind of significant financial success, and I may never, I wouldn't trade the joy and freedom I get every day for anything. If I were to suddenly have a million dollars, I would be doing the exact same thing that I am doing today; exploring my own creative projects and ideas. That's my passion, that's what I love, and I am doing it. The only difference between who I am right now and this hypothetical situation is a small difference in materialistic comfort.
What do you really need to be happy in life, honestly? Let's take a look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Physiological, I have plenty of food, a roof over my head and access to drinking water. Safety, I live in a safe country with health care and am in no way struggling to pay the bills. Love/belonging, pretty sure at least a few friends and family will be reading this. Esteem, sometimes I struggle with this but generally speaking, I'm fairly confident in myself and people respect me and my skills. Once you have all of those, what is left? Self-actualization, the heart of what I'm talking about. The aspect in all of us that emerges once all other basic needs have been satisfied, the desire to realize your full potential. Unique to the individual in both definition and expression, this need emerges in all of us in some way.
I've seen too many people limit themselves to satisfying their wants while giving up whatever it is they are passionate about. Often they live relatively happy lives (not saying you'll be miserable), by jumping from one momentary experience, new purchase, or high to another. Every single one of them will have a time when they look at the life around them and begin to wonder, "is this really all there is?" Mark my word, it will happen, I've seen it countless times. They'll know something is wrong but they've been too distracted with satisfying wants to recognize the missing element.
Given the choice between these two scenarios:
- Working all day doing something that's just okay so you can have nice things, enjoy a fun activity at the day's end, escaping your life through vacation, never really feeling motivated to succeed beyond what monetary gains you can get out of it
- Working all day doing something that brings you joy, something you would do whether you were rich or poor, but maybe having to give up some of life's comforts as you naturally master your vocation through hard work and self-motivation