My 87 years old mother is bored. All her life she pursued hobbies, but now cannot really manage them: the small motor skills to cut and paste her beautiful cards, or even typing emails to friends has deteriorated, her eyesight is fading and reading is uncomfortable. Which leaves us with bored.
On the other hand, my 90 year old client is very busy expressing, publishing and communicating with scientists and engineers discussing alternative ideas about the cause of climate change. He still has something to say and is passionate about articulating his different ideas and communicating those ideas to his specific audience. He is driving, walking and engineering (he’s a retired engineer) clever work-arounds for his aging wife.
The contrast reminded me of a quote by Bertrand Russell 0n how the heart of a fulfilling life is the dissolution of the personal ego into something larger.“the things he/she cares for will continue. . . I should wish to die while still at work, knowing that others will carry on what I can no longer do and content in the thought that what was possible, has been done.”
There no question that we want to thrive and create forever. In light of my recent observations, I wondered just how to go about that.
The best thing I discovered to help with a life fulfilled is to find and follow a passion. not a job, not a career, but a passion. And if that passion crosses over (like jumping the shark) and we can earn an income from employing that passion, all the better.
But a best life is not one in constant pursuit of income generating projects. A life well lived includes passion – ridiculous, engrossing, expensive passion.
First off, if you are a writer, you have a passion. A great starting point. Writers are unrepentant. Writers wake every morning to journal. Writers spend more money than they have in order to shove six more books into already packed library shelves. There is library in the bathroom. (When I have a little money, I buy books: and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes – Erasmus) Writers don’t get paid much, and they don’t let that stop them from the novel, the play, the poem. because words matter and what they have to say, matters.
Writers spend a lifetime making meaning of the world. And every effort is worth it.
Passion will keep us going. To spend our days on a project that is larger than ourselves, perhaps a subject that will take us on many detours, highways and bumpy roads and we stay with it and work hard to express its many nuances and themes, that is a life, that is an interesting journey. A big impossible idea leads to more nuanced questions and encourages larger conversations that can lift you and your friends above the usual litany of health complaints. A passion project is satisfying and stimulating.
A passion project has many facets. When we stay with our passion it often manifests differently as we age or as circumstances change.
Passion projects can open all sorts of avenues for exploration and for expression. what if you temporarily can’t exercise or participating in your passion project? You can donate to it. You can follow news about it. Listen or watch a class connected to it. Write a poem, create a song. Whatever you are able to do, you can manifest it through a creative work, because the passion for it will sustain you and encourage you to make a difference, continue to voice your opinion.
I will always write, but the activity may not always look the same as it does today. Just as dancing doesn’t look the same today as it did when I was five. The how doesn’t matter, what matters is the why.
A life well lived is the ability to continually ask the question and always follow your passion.