I keep coming across exhortations to “find my passion”. It appears that unless I find it, I am doomed to lead a miserable, unfulfilled life. If you are not thrilled with your job/life/world, you just haven’t found your passion, and you’d better get to it. Books abound on how to do it, written by people who have done it and now live blissfully happy lives, making money off their passion – or at least off the books. For the past few years, I’ve been convinced that somewhere buried inside me there was a passion, because “everyone” says there is.
Here’s the problem. I’ve tried doing the recommended exercises to find my passion, and have come to a startling conclusion. I don’t have one. I’ve tried visualizing my “perfect day” and after waking up in my seaside cottage (it’s always summer in my perfect day, and there are no hurricanes), my perfect day appears to be a blank. I’ve tried thinking back to what I loved doing as a child. I loved reading. Not much passion (or money) in that, unless I go into book reviewing, in which I have no interest. Sure, I’ve always loved animals, but beyond having pets and donating to animal shelters, I don’t want to spend my life passionately animaling. I like to cook, but you won’t find me taking lessons at Le Cordon Bleu. I’m learning how to scroll saw, that’s fun, but I’m hardly passionate about it. I knit very nicely, but it’s kind of boring as an occupation. (To me, I mean. I realize there are, of course, people who are passionate about knitting).
So it appears I have no passion to find. But here’s the thing. I’m happy with my life. I don’t feel the lack of anything. And there I’m ahead of the more than 2 billion people in the world who live on less than $2.00 per day. Finding their passion must rank pretty low on their priority lists. I can afford to have a passion, I guess, but why does that mean I must?
I’ve decided to get over it. If you have a passion, and you can afford to pursue it, that’s great. Just don’t assume that everyone else needs what you need to be happy. Or to be complete in themselves.
Things Are Such
Things are such, that someone lifting a cup,
or watching the rain, petting a dog,
or singing, just singing – could be doing as
much for this universe as anyone.
(translated by Daniel Ladinsky, from The Purity of Desire: 100 Poems of Rumi)