There’s a myth in the air. Not the kind of fun, adventurous sort as it goes in disguise as. No, this myth is choking the life, and futures, out of people right now. I want to bring down to the ground the myth of doing what you love. Doing what you love sounds harmless, perhaps even inspiring. What started off perhaps well and good has becomes some kind of proclaimed motto for living, a badge of honour, and in some cases a way to gloat about hard work. (which by the way good job.) The doing what you love myth has somehow morphed into this grotesque thing, a holographic image projected into some potential future of what your life could or should look like, the latter being the most insidious of the offenders. Doing what you love, has pop-culturally translated to be whatever the hell suits the orator best, as if often the case with common phrases. Think about doing what you love and then what about all the stuff people don’t love doing. Someone else must be doing that. While I’m tempted, I’ll try to get at this topic without going full into the semiotics of (raise the banners here!) doing what you love, the ultimate inspiration, the ultimate empowerment, the ultimate recipe for the right kind of life to live or the right way to live your life. Ta-dah! bing bang boom! Ultimate has arrived. And so what happens when you are doing what you love and suddenly there’s a week or month of boredom, frustration, confusion, or heaven forbid unhappiness or misery. Then for sure you must not be doing what you love and must find the REAL thing that it must be you were always destined to do-right? I mean, that makes complete sense in mantra of doing what you love.
First, there’s not really any such a thing as doing what you love. Love itself is not something that is done. Love is not enacted. Love is not performed. Love is love. Draw a heart, circle or box around that phrase, love is love. Love exits in and of itself for the purpose of itself. Take a shoe for example. A shoe is a shoe and exists in and of itself for the sake of being a shoe. People go ahead and mix in ideas about lifestyle with shoes all the time-namely to help sell another pair to a person who already owns 20, and a lot of people never even notice. They go on buying the shoe as if it gave them whatever kind of life the shoe promised to give them. Maybe it sounds kind of funny, and that’s the thing about taking love and mixing in ideas about lifestyle with it.
So what can we do! Heavens! I’m saying it doesn’t matter if you do what you love or not. I’ve tried it. You might have too. (queue romantic longing music track) Guess what, the things you loved doing, always turn out to be work. Sometimes the work that comes up to be done is enjoyable and sometimes the work that comes up is boring, agitating, or the sort of thing that inspires me to put on my big sunshades, turn my head to the side and pretend like I didn’t just see that thing that, yup, must be done to get to that other thing that must be done, to get to the thing that I hope to do, and by the time I get to doing it I might not want to do it at all…but I do it. While it might sound like a form of madness (and likely is to some extent) there’s a reason, to get to living the life I want to make for myself and people I love. Sounds simple. Well it is, but it sometimes gets gnarly. While there are several myths I’ve ferreted out in my own head, this doing what you love myth has seemed to infect more than just me. I’ve heard and seen the aftereffects of it all around me, lying in a post-done what I love minefield. As mind-numbing, feet-dragging agony as it all sounds, it’s not. Because in life, hay! there are things people want. There are things everyone wants. Wanting is not a special thing.
What I’ve learned in the past few years is this: there are no truths, why is the wrong question or answer depending on who you ask, and you can do whatever you want. The rupture of the ideal or the myth of the ideal is what people are experiencing now.
All the people imagined going around doing what they love all day, they don’t have some magic fairy potion to sell. Maybe some of these doing what they lovers are highlighting something that often is failed to be mentioned-focus. Doing what you love requires sustained focus. Have a tasteless plate of food in front of you? You could look for one enjoyable quality about it. Have a mindless task to complete? Maybe there’s a shred of something in it for you to share some love energy with-however tiny. And I get it, exerting the energy to enjoy something that doesn’t seem enjoyable can seem like submitting yourself to some kind of unusually cruel and arduous torture, but it’s probably not. The dishwasher, the comfy car, the whatever comfort or discomfort happening in a life that has everything it needs, that life doesn’t need to do more things that it loves- maybe the life just needs nothing for a moment or that moment of dread or agony. Some of these efforts may in fact turn up nothing loveable, they might be damn right loatheable, but the thing is, whatever you focus on doing…you have a choice on where and how to focus. And that is not a lifestyle or right or wrong way to live, it is a choice. Choices are not always easy. When you have the option to make what you want happen versus letting go of that thing happening at all, that is a choice. And whatever you want to experience your life as, there will be things that are oh so loveable to do and things that are damn right painful or on some level despicable to taste in some way.
Hold up. The picture isn’t so bleak after all. Let’s take a look at Love’s friend-her name is called Loss. At some point there will be an encounter where you may see the risk of loss…in this risk of loss point, you may feel your body in such a way that is undeniable, unavoidably confronting. Going into that feeling may bring to light thoughts swirling through your mind, and you will know the choice that will create a sensation of aliveness in your body or a sensation of gripping terror, fear, or further pain. It’s always quite clear. A sense of aliveness or a sense of dying or defense. And there’s another choice. Again no right or wrong, but you can choose whichever route stirs the thoughts and feelings that produce that sensation of love. Maybe this is what the people running around saying “do what you love” intended for it to mean. I can’t say for sure, but the choice and produces a feeling closer to what feels like love or aliveness, which may bring you through other feelings, but if you slow down for a moment long enough to get a sense of this feeling that’s within your body all the time-then you’ve got yourself something that doesn’t need empowering, you’re totally enabled human being thing. That’s the choice in doing what you love. The gift, the damnation, the only hint of something close to a truth I have found. And I have hunted hard and turned up with nothing still. Do what you love. Do what you hate. Do nothing at all. Whatever you want. Life will go on. Choosing the option, however much you want to or not want to do what comes along with it, that brings you closer to creating sensation of love-which coincidently feels alive. That sense of aliveness which people seek-even though life is in fact living right now. There are no guarantees if the the thing you love to create will happen or not. I might or it might not. More often than not I have witnessed it happen. Not through luck alone, but through consistently choosing the route with the love feeling. So the doing what you love is not something that is done, but rather a way to focus on enjoying a life full of the things most personally valued. And when someone does that, what everyone else is doing or thinks doesn’t matter one bit. And that feels pretty alive and loving as well.