Your Life’s Passion
NOTE — not about sex, love or passionate love and sex.
Do a quick Google search on finding your passion (FYP). On the day I did it, there were 37,800,000 hits in Google images. For a regular old Google web search? A mere 35,400,000 hits. Pictures louder than words?
Hours of looking at images. Reading. Talking with people. And pondering.
This isn’t a new pondering. A work colleague — she of the human resources tribe, of doing personality tests to identify work relating styles, of change management and self-development workshops — introduced me to the notion of finding your passion close to 10 years ago. And I have been pondering it since.
Passion, in the sense of finding your life’s passion, seems to be used in one of two ways:
– an activity or interest in which you can totally lose yourself, in a healthy way of course. At some point, say some FYP gurus when you believe in yourself enough, you take that leap of faith, quit your job and follow your passion because if you do what you love, the money will follow;
– a purpose. As in the purpose of your life. What you are put on this planet to do.
This notion of life purpose seems pretty random. I know of a woman who knew from the time she could talk that she’d be an artist. She has been singularly focused her entire life. And I know of people who knew they’d be a doctor, a chef, a journalist, a vet.
Yet most people I know are not born with this innate sense of what they were meant to do. And some of these people feel that somehow they are missing a life track because they haven’t found that singular life passion that will lead them to “embrace their joy” which in turns leads to wealth and prosperity. And some people turn to this industry that has developed to help people find all that is missing in their career and life. Like M.A.P. Maker. M stands for Meaning. A stands for Abundance. P stands for Passion. Seriously.
I am not convinced about life purpose. But then again, I was not raised to believe that productivity is THE biggest room in heaven, or that idle hands will be taken over by some force of darkness.
I have wondered if the FYP business has as its genesis the Puritan, North-American-by-way-of-England-and-Scotland idea that you are called, that you are given a vocation, a purpose by a higher power and you live it, do it with a happy heart. But the world was simpler then. Life was simpler. Maybe that’s why the Simplify Your Life business has become as big as FYP.
A Meaningful Life
It seems that in order for our life to be meaningful, we have to do something BIG. Leave a BIG mark. Have a huge impact.
I hear of some of my sister’s friend and their plans to change the world…and I wonder, in that big sister kind of way: If you want to make a difference in the world, what’s stopping you? Is it necessary to wait until the perfect job comes along that takes you to that far remote corner of Antarctica? Why not make a difference now, in one life, in one moment. Is there no life purpose close to you? Seeing what’s around you and what needs to be done and doing it? Is having an impact on one person, or a few somehow not enough anymore? Has cult of celebrity become SO insidious that if our name is not in the history books, we judge ourself a failure?
Which brings me to wonder why this FYP thing is all, well, mostly about career. For some reason, all that we are as a person is increasingly stuffed into and defined by what we do for a living. FYP gurus say that if you do what you are passionate about as your career it won’t feel like work, so you can do it 25/7 and not feel like it’s work. Because goodness knows we are working harder, giving over emotional labour like never before and feeling ever more depleted by it. So if you ARE going to give over your life to something that pays you, hadn’t it best be something that you are happy doing? Mind you, Confucius said it a few thousand years earlier.
This having a singular, as in only one, passion: I am reminded that in evolution, as in economics, over-specialization for any length of time is dangerous. A population becomes painfully vulnerable to minute changes in the environment. Much like a town that relies on a single industry for its economy.
Whatever happened to the idea of a Renaissance person, interested and capable in many areas? Is our world, our life, too complex for that now?
Are we hunkering down, looking for the one, single, ultimate thing, the one passion, to pour our energies because our world is complicated, is changing and unpredictable and ONE is simple?
BACK TO STORYLINE
In those early days of the American Puritans, the passion was clear and communal and held things together for a while, if you don’t count the Witch Trials, or the general cult-like atmosphere.
So I wonder if the FYP business hasn’t repackaged, recontextualized and capitalized on our continuous search for an ideal that we can hold — that anchors and feeds and soothes heart mind and soul — something that we need. The FYP business has found a niche in marketing to a target group in search of a step-by-step how-to method which if followed religiously clears the noise so that the inner voice can reveal a life passion, or at least a direction toward it, and along that road will be money, purpose and meaning.
And that — the BIG question of the meaning of life — is something that many people are hunting down with bows and arrows and fundamentalist zeal. The purpose and meaning of a life is a philosophical question. It is not an easy process when you bang into the need for an answer. And the answer does not always come easily. Not only that, it can change over time and circumstance.
So when I hear people fretting about the fact that they have not found their passion, their purpose, their life’s meaning I wonder if the FYP hasn’t somehow oversimplified what is a complex process; so much so as to be misleading. There is no off-the-shelf app that you plug into your brain to find a life passion, a purpose, a meaning. It takes work and honesty and a great deal of knowing yourself, or at least a willingness to get deep and dirty honest with yourself. Sometimes a thought partner can help. That may be the best part of the FYP business. A skilled questioner, and guide to help you. You might not find your life’s passion. But you could.
If you are wondering:
One of the best tools I have found to clear and still a noisy mind, so that my mind is clear to do the heavy lifting for any philosophical question that might arise it’s something called Morning Pages.
Life ebbs and flows. So does passion. We are being unreasonable if we expect a steady stream of passion, purpose and meaning. My own experience so far? No counting the workshops? Life passion, purpose and meaning are those moments of feeling connected. Moments. A smile from a stranger, looking out over a sunset; holding hands, puppy love, down on the ground with a kid; someone you don’t know saying, “you changed my point of view”, the feeling you get from a job well done, from when you help someone, from being kind at all times, and always, always love — of something or with someone. All these million million moments of connecting to all that makes us better than we ever imagined we could be.
That’s for now. Til my pondering takes me elsewhere.
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