I promised a while back that I wasn’t going to keep harping on about the whole Do what you love philosophy, and I’m not – really. I confess, though, I still like reading about it. A lot! Everytime I come across some article about “following your passion” – whether in favor of it or against it – I devour it, whether with an eagerly nodding head or a skeptical tsk-tsk, they’ll learn attitude.
That’s why I don’t write about it any more; nobody wants to hear some pedantic nitwit talking about that kind of stuff.
I say this just to reassure you: this is NOT going to be another one of Those Posts. Also, I owe you an apology; at some point I failed to actually record the URL of the article that contained the technique that I’m about to discuss. So I can’t forward you on to the article, but I guess that’s ok, because if I did that I might seem like I was urging people to follow their passion.
And I said I wouldn’t do that.
Don’t Let In What You Don’t Love
The article was talking about how difficult it can be to figure out what it is you love, because you can love different things at different times, and what does “love” mean, anyway? How do you know that what you love is going to love you back?
The idea of trying out things until you figure out what you love is not very efficient. Just go with the numbers – the time required to think of something, try it out for a while, evaluate it – it just kind of seems ridiculous, given the number of things you could do. That’s the price of civilization and a more mobile class structure; in the good old days a person knew their place, after all, and were likely born into their occupation as well. None of this “multipotentiality” stuff!
Instead, the author (and believe me, it’s killing me that I didn’t bookmark this article!) suggested that instead, we simply choose to only do the things that we want to do. That bring us joy. Now, before you go into a whole list of reasons why that’s not practical, let me just acknowledge that as a discussion that is truly interesting and worthwhile and can we please have it another time? Preferably with some cigars and whiskey and maybe some classic jazz vocalists in the background?
Because that’s not where my mind went when I read the article. No, he said the word “joy” and my mind instantly shifted into “KonMari” mode, because the phrase “spark of joy” has become the mantra for at least a week here at the Dance of Smoke and Ash (what Natasha and I fondly call our apartment). We’re almost done with Marie Kondo’s methodology, and everything we touch is rated on the “spark of joy” scale. Does it give it to us? Or not?
As it turns out, this becomes a good way to keep from acquiring more clutter, as well, which I found out as I put my “love powers” to work at a thrift shop. Natasha and I were there looking for a couple things – a small table to put next to my writing chair, and possibly some tapers for candles we were keeping.
No luck on the table, but she did find some small glass star-shaped tapers. My first reaction was relief – something we needed had been acquired! The more I looked at them, though, the less happy I felt. The star-shapes had a kind of ’70’s teenage-girl’s-room feeling to them, and it just didn’t match with the feeling that I wanted to create with the planned candlelit dinners. That’s when it hit me: I didn’t love them. They didn’t bring me a “spark of joy” – nor did Natasha seem terribly attached (I freely admit that there are things that I have no attachment to but that bring a happy smile to her face. Call it the Commutative Spark Principle).
So why would I let it into my life? This was what that article was talking about: don’t let things in that you don’t love.
We put the tapers back for someone else to love. We can wait a while, until we find something else we actually love.