Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What is worth all this work?

"Most men, even in this comparatively free country , through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them."
 -Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes I find myself wondering what it is that I am truly most passionate about.  Passion is a strong word and an elusive subject.  I have watched more than a few videos and read more than a few books that talk about finding that thing which one is passionate about and then and only then all other things ought to fall into place.  We will work without feeling the toil and make ends meet without struggling to maintain interest in our occupations.  Oh, to find that passion which would make all work seem like fun and fun a productive use of our time!

It might be a naive hope, but part of me want to believe in this Utopian reality where my most passionate interest could provide both for all of the material needs of my family and be my employment, in the most practical sense.  I guess in simplest terms, to love what you do, to truly find deep pleasure and satisfaction in your work --to be filled with energy and not have your spirit be exhausted by your work.  I know that some people have found this job that fulfills them and are blessed with the ability to love what they do, but is it not more rare than it ought to be?

I think I struggle with this question because it goes beyond answering the questions of "How will I take care of my needs and those of my family?" or "What job can I find that will fill me with joy and satisfaction?" and it is rooted in a deeper set of questions such as, "Why am I here on this planet?" "What is the meaning of life?" and "Am I truly in control of my destiny?" among many other confusing questions which are dealt with mostly in a spiritual context and even if you pause to consider them you cannot linger too long without having to go back to work and get caught up in the potential meaningless of your daily drudgery.

I may have started out by asking entirely the wrong question.  Maybe I shouldn't be asking, "What am I passionate about?" but "What is worth being passionate about?"  Maybe passion is something that is discovered and we are not necessarily wired to have one predetermined passion.  Perhaps, if we find what is worth being passionate about, we may just as well find out that what we have been laboring endlessly for is not entirely worth all the struggle.  Discovering what is worth being passionate about may lead us to a simpler existence which is less exhausting and more delightful.  We may have to spend some of our time and energy concerned with simple survival -how will we eat and where will we live, but if we are not too absorbed in those things as the "end" then, perhaps, we will find the work to be less of our concern and find more time to enjoy what is truly worth being passionate about.

I guess this year I would like to enjoy "life's finer fruits" to quote Thoreau, spending less time on the "superfluously coarse labors" and attempting to nurture those things that are worth being passionate about.  Perhaps, I will have to spend some of my time inquiring and searching for what those things may be, but in any case, it seems like it would be a worth while journey to embark upon in this new year.

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live the questions now... R.M. Rilke