Saturday, January 18, 2014

Do What You Love, Blah Blah Blah

I've been reading articles lately (here's one) on following your passion as a work/life choice, a topic which is very close to home for me. (Hey Captain Obvious! Missed you.) The full mantra is either "Do what you love. Love what you do" or "Do what you love and the money will follow." BWAAA-HAAAAA-HAAA-HA-HA!!! HAH! HA! HA!

Oh, my, let me catch my breathe a bit. That last one really hits me funny bone for some reason.

Smart assitude aside, I've been an advocate for this approach, never noticing the snobbery built into it. The aphorisms themselves suggest that if you find yourself doing a tedious or unpleasant job, it's because you were insufficiently dedicated to your passion. If only everyone would do what they love, then every job would be filled by passionate, enthusiastic people!

Except, no. Most jobs in the world are not especially lovable, but somebody still needs to do them. Somebody needs to assemble the iphones, if they are going to get assembled. Somebody needs to take away the rubbish. It's hard to imagine a person busing dishes as a calling because of their deep love of the work and dedication to being the best damn busboy ever. I'm not saying one should not do what they love; only that we should recognize the extraordinary privilege built into the freedom to make that choice.

Even me. Especially me.

I do what I love, yes. I make pottery and teach others to make pottery, and I love doing it. And the money has not followed from just loving what I do and my commitment to do it as well as it can be done, no. I've made the financial end work by hook or by crook, but it's an outright lie to imply that just dedication to a passion will cause the world to supply one with a living. The fact that we are still afloat owes much to middle class beginnings and privileges: I have a college education, and a mid-Atlantic accent that helps me interview very well when I have needed to grab a temp job to cover a shortfall. We made it through December because many of our Christmas presents were Hannaford gift cards (thank God), made possible because we have family who can afford to buy gift cards. Our car recently died, so we drove a vehicle borrowed from a friend who is traveling for a few months until we could replace it. Friends with resources are a privilege, too.

Right now I am struggling with whether I can continue to be potter in a full time way.  This is not a pity party (although the next time I have one, you'll surely get a gold-plated invitation and a ringside seat; I do love me a good pity party.) This is an observation: part of my struggle here is a sense of shame, that I might have to lower myself to do work which is merely work. And that is bullshit.

There is no failure there. I want to get past the reverence for creative pursuits above more mundane ones which makes me feel I am wasting the Gifts of the Magi or something if I decide that the necessary thing for me and my family is for me to get an office job. No more than I am wasting my talents as a receptionist (and I can joke about it, but I really was a very good receptionist) by spending my days with muddy hands.

This isn't a big announcement, and more likely than not I will find a way to keep on keeping on, because I am stubborn as hell and maybe a little selfish. Instead, this is  a shout-out to the folks whose work is purely work, an economic activity, and a reminder to myself not to devalue those whose jobs that are done of necessity rather than passion. If I join their ranks, I am still me, still a person, still making a contribution.

Looks like the Week of Reflection has begun.
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