By now I’m sure you’ve had somebody tell you to follow your passion. There are entire TED talks, by (inexplicably) respected speakers, telling people that the secret to life is to find what makes you happy and then build everything else around that. They say it blithely, like it’s the easiest thing in the world.
So one day I decided to give it a try. Here’s what happened.
I had set my alarm the night before for 5:30am because I was supposed to catch a flight to a speaking event. But that was before I’d decided to follow my passion, and when my alarm went off I realized that I wasn’t passionate about getting out of bed at 5:30. So I went back to sleep. I did the same thing at 6:30 when my son started crying for us to let him out of the crib, because I was really comfortable. It was my wife’s turn to sleep in, but fortunately she is passionate about taking care of our children. At least I assume she is, since she’s the one who got up after 15 minutes and got him dressed.
Somewhere around 7:15 my passion informed me that I was hungry, so I got up. I was totally craving a omelette, but the idea of actually making it myself didn’t awaken my bliss, so I went out to eat. My wife was so focused on pouring her joy into getting our children ready that she didn’t even talk to me as I walked out of the house, but that was OK because none of my thoughts were sufficiently passionate to deserve voicing out loud. Life wanted me to get an omelette, and that was that.
My breakfast was indeed fantastic, and I immediately felt more centered. So centered, in fact, that I chose to ignore a phone call from the airlines wondering if I would like to rebook the flight I’d missed. It was a beautiful day, and the inner warrior in me was craving a rewarding interaction with nature. So I went kayaking.
When I got back home four hours later, I had a number of phone calls and emails awaiting my attention – I had left my phone behind while communing with nature, naturally – but I wasn’t called to respond to them. I remember a fleeting wish that others would follow their passion the way I was following mine, because if that were the case then my manager probably wouldn’t be wondering how I was going to make it to my event that evening, and my client would probably have realized that the event they were hosting wasn’t the purest manifestation of their true will. But then I remembered there were a ton of shows I’d fallen behind on, and so I dove right in.
I was so engrossed in my own enjoyment that I forgot to pick my children up from daycare, but that’s OK – after all, I wasn’t supposed to be home anyway, so my wife had it covered. The problem of dinner presented itself, but I discovered to my wonderment that I was passionate about preparing it. Not cooking anything, exactly – that would take too long, and require actions I wasn’t in love with performing – but the microwave did sing its siren song to me. My family was less than impressed with my culinary efforts, but then again, they had spent the day slogging through a collection of activities and duties that hadn’t brought them uninterrupted ecstasy.
I put my kids to bed – reading bedtime stories is the most fun part of parenting in my opinion, so I was OK doing that – and settled in to read a good book before turning in myself. All in all, it was a perfect day. And now I’m a believer. All of us should follow our passion all the time, without sacrifice or compromise. If a thing isn’t dripping with meaning and purpose, then it shouldn’t be a part of our lives. The only things worth doing are the ones we enjoy doing.
It’s all so clear now!