I get so tired of the advice to ‘do whatever you would do if money weren’t an issue’. Because, for most of us, it is.
Like it or not, money is an integral part of our lives and society.
If you are a faithful reader of this blog, you will know that I am all about following your dreams, finding fulfilment and endeavouring to suck the very marrow out of life. So I am not at all suggesting that we must ‘resign’ ourselves to less than we are capable of or ‘settle’ just because that’s the easy way. Not at all.
But we have to sustain our physical lives. We all have a mortgage or rent to pay, we all need to eat, be clothed and pay for electricity and other amenities. Some of us have school fees, dance lessons, music lessons, and sport that we choose to pay in order that our children have a broad range of opportunities.
I am not a very money focused person – my long suffering husband will attest to that – so it’s definitely not that I think we should chase money. It’s just that it’s so unrealistic!
Most people, if money were not an issue, would do things that would not bring in much money, or no money at all, or not bring in enough until years down the track. Like writing, painting, gardening, volunteer work, travelling. Because, one of the things we would enjoy about money not being an issue is money not being an issue. So, we would pursue paths that had little to no income for precisely that reason.
Let’s say we do choose a life path based on nothing but our desire to do what we wanted – what do we live on in the meantime? The government? Charity from friends and family? And what if those friends and family decided they should only pursue their desires? They wouldn’t have the means to support us while we were writing poetry, learning macrame or cross breeding roses.
So how do we find a happy medium? How do we follow and pursue our dreams and still make a living that can support our responsibilities?
I know of one person who I think has found a pretty good balance. They have a day job they really don’t like, but that day job has allowed them to learn a musical instrument, learn other crafts, travel, drink very good wine and put children through private school, given them dance and sport lessons and helped them with their first cars. All in all, they have followed their desires, their passions, yet have done the hard yards doing something that is less than satisfying work-wise.
So maybe your day job only just pays your way, with no money left over to take piano lessons, or travel, or drink $50 bottles of wine but you can still pursue your passions. It doesn’t cost much to write, or paint, or get into the garden.
Living purely and solely for our passions is not only impractical, it is inherently selfish. It is selfish to sacrifice other’s best interests for the sake of our passions.
Just for a minute, imagine a world in which every single one of us did that. There would be no-one to put our groceries through the check out, or fix that blocked drain, or help us get the most from our tax return. We would all be off busily writing odes to the objects of our affection, sitting on a beach contemplating our navels in the Bahamas or strumming away on our badly tuned guitar in the garage.
No, there must be a balance. And I say a balance, for too much meaningless work without some effort put into our passions is no good at all.
For me, contentment in life is the pursuit of well-roundedness. We must do things in life that we don’t like or we will most certainly become spoilt, immature, soft spined creatures indeed. A mixture of both, pursuit of passion, and mundane work life is surely what will engender in us a true sense of appreciation for all aspects of life – not just the pursuit of our own happiness.