By Abigail Mathias
Bringing passion to your profession is something that requires daily nurturing. Especially if you may be stuck at a job where you are constantly plagued with the question, ‘should I do this for the pay cheque or do I have more interesting things to do with my life?’ Someone recently sent me a speech by Bill Watterson, creator of the witty comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes. Watterson was addressing the graduating class of 1990, but he could have been talking to any one of us today. You see Watterson drove his now famous comic strip for five years without pay when he was starting out. He accepted heaps of agony for what he believed in but it certainly paid off in the end. He says, “We all have different desires and needs, but if we don't discover what we want from ourselves and what we stand for, we will live passively and unfulfilled.” So I guess I’m at peace with the fact that I have to sometimes write a less than interesting release or two. It doesn’t stop me from writing this blog, making hand made cards and generally enjoying working with words when I have the time. Perhaps it wasn’t too long ago that you were fresh out of college and were an eager beaver just like me. Ready to take that plunge into the big bad world. All of us have had stars in our eyes, made lofty plans we were sure to accomplish once ‘real’ life began. Once out of the cacoon, it probably didn’t take long to realise that your somewhat safe college existence will forever remain a nostalgic playground, one that you will revisit time and time again. Old crushes, embarrassing prom dates, skinny pictures of your former self on Facebook and Picassa during your college days, are all part of that happy memory that you can enter any number of times without permission. We all love that phrase, 'those were the days.' I wonder who came up with it because it is almost a denial of the present time which is equally capable of generating happy memories. Perhaps nostalgia is a soothing balm allowing the mind to filter the bad memories and focus on the sugar coated ones. You might not remember that low grade in history class but you will remember what you grooved to at the college social. It may be healthy to revisit those teenage dreams occasionally. Especially when you are in a rut and life seems like a predictable regime instead of something to look forward to. What happened to your plans? Teen ambitions of maybe starting your own rock band, writing a Pulitzer prize-winning novel or teaching ballet. Whatever your dream was, it may have been fictional but its never too late to start putting it into play. But only if the fire is still in your belly. If you don’t believe in yourself, chances are very few other people will. I’m always fascinated to hear about professionals who started out with other stuff and somehow found their passion. Rod Stewart used to dig graves at a place called Highgate Cemetry till he started wooing us with his mellow voice. Eric Clapton sang on the streets of England for money before he started having sold out concerts worldwide. There’s a delightful anecdote about how J.K. Rowling’s first manuscripts were trashed in the bin before Harry Potter was magically discovered in them. I’m sure there are many real life stories of triumph. Of trial and error that took other people just like you and me to the path they are happy to be on today. Of course it isn’t easy for everyone to take that bold step into the unknown. I won’t blame you if all your friends called you ‘coo-coo’ if you decided to start a business selling hand painted bird feathers. Though who knows, there might just be market for it. But don’t take my word for it. Do it if you believe in it. It is just like that line about a salesman selling a refrigerator to an Eskimo. I once saw a man selling hair clips in the local train in Bombay. He had no arms but ingeniously created a special hanging device that was clipped to the train handle. It somehow magically displayed all the various colourful clips and rotated them to attract customers. He didn't speak a word but seemed so enthusiastic about his job and made a killer of a sale that day. I hope I can spot him again the next time I'm having a lousy day. I wonder if I can find him and ask him where he gets the energy from. It is as Watterson said, “…having an enviable career is one thing, and being a happy person is another.” So go ahead, dream that impossible dream!
First published on firstname.lastname@example.org - August 26, 2009 All rights reserved.