“But you see,” said Roark quietly, “I have, let’s say, sixty years to live. Most of that time will be spent working. I’ve chosen the work I want to do. If I find no joy in it, then I’m only condemning myself to sixty years of torture. And I can find joy only if I do my work in the best possible way to me. But the best is a matter of standards — and I set my own standards. I inherit nothing. I stand at the end of no tradition. I may, perhaps, stand at the beginning on one.” The excerpt is from the book “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. Motivating. I’m sold.
“Follow your passion” is a tricky concept. It all starts with hobbies we hoard as kids. I woke up as an 8’y old, watched my favourite cartoon ‘save the city from burning down’ and I wanted to join Police. The next day I saw the same cartoon selling popcorns in theatre, and yes, the animation was so good, I wanted to be a popcorn seller. I even bought a popcorn packet from the store to start training.
The fickle nature of what’s popular today often confused me to change buses, which led to different passions as moons changed. When I zoom out from then to now, it’s weird how we are wired to assume that a person can only have a single dedicated passion.
In a dynamic atmosphere, where crypto is the new currency, we should not be narrow-minded, and address different interests that call for our attention as we age. People are judged if they quit their steady paying jobs to follow a creative pursuit — I was one of them.
The problem wasn’t with me toying around with the idea of “one man, too many passions”, but my persuasion to follow each passion so much to make a living out of it. Because real-world jobs, however creative, are far from good pay.
My creativity is often lost to sensitivity. In my writing gig, I type things in a light vein, but the sensitive Pac-man eats all those words up. Even the word as harmless as s*** gets labelled as slang. Grrr.
And my principles took a bow to authority. Whoever is at greater authority gets to decide, what works better, while I am taking notes, pretend-nodding, until their self-proclaimed words of wisdom disappear into thin air.
“But again, who in this world gets to do only what they want and feel consistent with their creativity and principles and get paid for it? Perhaps, the cartoons in their cartoon world.” I mused.
My friend, a boring tie-wearing banker, seemed pretty satiated with life and work. I asked him, what’s keeping him on his toes for being consistent with one bank for 8 long years. He told me, he took his job as his job. “The job leaves me to play at 5 in the evening.
On my way back, I stop for a soirée with friends and later chill with kids and family for dinner. The pay is decent, and all insurance is covered. Weekends are off, and that’s when Rafael Nadal in me takes upon his unfulfilled ambitions and Sundays, I soak myself in the beach or whatever concert is up. Life is as hard or as simple as one makes it to be.”
A millennial’s understanding
It then struck me, that all the creative pursuits that constantly itch my heart could also exist as weekend hobbies. The whole idea of commoditising each passion is a silly ask. I was passionate about clothing, but I wasn’t necessarily very good at it. Oftentimes there’s a sense of pressure to ace one’s passion, but in a millennial’s understanding — not all paintings will turn into NFTs is my lesson, well-learnt.
With writing as well, the doubts hover leaving me feeling unmoored and empty, but it’s in reading that I have discovered — a passion may become a profession, but one has to separate the entities and fulfil the obligations as required. It’s not going to be a perpetual state of bliss but a routine of mundane tasks, a man is gotta do.
It’s become necessary to attach meaning and fulfilment to your work, as also be able to make as much money as required to level your bills and thrills. It’s a difficult route up there as we see our passions plummet when our professions rob us of our free time, must we then, see this life as a game, and play our roles. The duty of work is one, the chase to fulfil creative pursuits shouldn’t be deemed fulfilled only when money is in exchange.
Many find themselves lonely at the pinnacle of success. A calling or career, howsoever satisfying, must also leave room for other roles we have at hand. Son, father, husband, friend, or even neighbour — these roles are just as much our jobs as our real paying job is.
While you’re awarded for the work you do, the path to fulfilment is not just restricted to that. You’d also be rewarded when you diligently perform those roles. That’s how you store your happy eggs in many baskets.
Ashish Dewani is an avid traveller and writer. Twitter: @a5hush