“I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.”
My dad once told my brother who was struggling with his degree – computer science because it looked like the best opportunity for money – that this was a mistake. While he as a parent always wants more for his children – wants them to have the financial security we did not have growing up, he could not let my brother do something that was not natural to him.
You see, my brother couldn’t get through a beginning programming class without major struggles. His mind doesn’t work that way. I spoke to him daily during that entire class trying to put the process in terms his mind could wrap around. And these issues led to more issues down the line. He procrastinated. He would do everything but that work.
So my dad sat down with him and had a conversation he never thought he would have with any of his kids – drop all of those classes and declare the major he should have declared – communications with an emphasis on journalism.
“But there is no money in that” was my brother’s retort.
“But there is no joy in you doing something you hate” was my dad’s response.
My brother bit the bullet and did what my dad pushed him to do. Then got straight A’s – went from writer to the editor of the college newspaper & literary publication – and got some killer internships at the governor’s office. He found what fed his soul.
Another friend of mine who I worked with for over 12 years was asked by someone why he did IT purchasing when he clearly was an artist. His art is amazing – hell, a piece hangs on my wall. His response: “I need money to feed my art habit – I do it for the art only.”
He applied the same tenacity and work ethic in his day job as he did with his art. He found ways to enjoy how he made his “art fund” and supported his family. But when he showed you his art he had done – pictures of it or the real pieces – you saw his eyes light up – he lit up because that was what fed his soul. When asked how his parents felt about his art, he responded with “they are nut cases – I don’t care because they are still trying to figure themselves out at 60+ years of age. I wish them luck – but don’t look for their validation.”
Someone recently had their passion dismissed by a family member. And I cringed for her. It made me sad that instead of seeing how hard she works to do it all – how she doesn’t give up even with discouraged – how she is finding her place in an art community – that instead of seeing those things that her family gave her as soft skills, the focus was on money. That it was dismissed. That it was blown off.
Feed your soul.
Take thousands of photos.
Plant a garden.
Build that cafe racer you have always wanted.
Make that piece of furniture you have dreamed of.
Invent a dumbwaiter system using an old garage door opener.
Cook insane meals that use every pot in the house.
Buy a ukulele and play it.
Run. Jump. Ride.
Dance to the music.
Learn a new skill.
Teach crossfit classes.
Have an adventure.
Rebuild a VW bus.
Do whatever feeds that soul of yours!
Feed your soul with the same tenacity and desire as you do keeping the house clean, keeping the kids fed, getting your day job done. Make it your priority. Make it the reason you live – not the chores, not the money earning, not the things that detract from your reason to get up in the morning.
Feeding your soul is what will make you live to 100. It will keep you balanced and young and happy.
Let those who don’t get this point teach you a very important lesson: how not to live your life. Because that’s the amazing thing about family, they may give you a lot of those soft skills that make you a great person…..but they also can show you how you don’t want to live.
That doesn’t mean you love them less. You just look at the fact they don’t get that and change the subject to something they do have a passion about in hopes that they see that you get what they love. Easier said than done, I know.
Just don’t stop feeding what makes life worth living.
Stop feeding so much to that which does not.