Why Doing What You Love Matters
Life is not a means to an end. You are here to enjoy the ride, not to acquire a seat at the table. You’re already at the banquet. That is not to say that life does not require effort or involve suffering. No, clearly both are part of the process. The question is, rather, “In what are you investing your energy?”
Life happens while you are fulfilling obligations, the things you think that you should do to be a good person. There is nothing wrong with being nice and considerate. But do you do it out of love or a sense of duty? Are you trying to earn approval and esteem, as if those things are not inherently yours as an air-breather on the planet? Do you have a sense of freedom in your actions?
Life also happens while you are trying to achieve status and acquire wealth. There is nothing wrong with being rich or accomplishing goals. But do you enjoy the process? Is the end worth the means? Do you feel a lightness of being in your endeavors?
We all have to do the necessary, human work of survival—things like offering a service for compensation, washing the dishes, cleaning the house, keeping up the yard, paying the bills, etc. These are non-negotiable requirements of securing our lives.
The sacred Indian text, the Bhagavad Gita, says:
Desire for the fruits of work must never be your motive in working. . . They who work selfishly for results are miserable.
The truth is that we only have today, I mean, this moment. Are you living in the here and now in such a way that brings you joy?
The question is not, “What would I do if I didn’t have to work?” If we are capable, we all have to work, so let’s just get past that one. A more relevant question is, “What are the basics that I need in order to do the work I love?” You may need to get an education to give you a doorway into engaging in the work that you enjoy doing. Maybe you need to secure an apprenticeship or volunteer for a while. And if you are blessed with an automatic income, for whatever reason, you still get to decide how you interact with the day. Once you have gotten to the baseline of access, the choice is yours in how you spend your time. Most importantly, the choice is also yours in how you show up each day, in gratitude or self-pity.
English mystic, Julian of Norwich, had a near-death experience in the 14th century and wrote in Revelations of Divine Love:
Spiritual enlightenment came with the words, “Do you want to know what our Lord meant in all this?” Learn it well: Love was what he meant. Who showed it to you? Love. What did he show you? Love. Why did he show it? Out of love. Stay with this and you will learn and know more about love, but you will never know or learn anything else from it—not ever.
The only fulfillment that you will ever receive is in the precious present. You won’t feel the satisfaction of engagement later or be able to hold onto the gratification that you felt in the past. That is why the most important thing for you to do right now is to connect to your sense of the Sacred in this moment, whatever that means for you. Because as you connect to that Source of inspiration, you will naturally follow the energy of your bliss.
My patron saint, Spanish mystic, Teresa of Avila, wrote in The Interior Castle:
If you want to make progress on the path and ascend to the places you’ve longed for, the important thing is not to think much but to love much, and so to do whatever best awakens you to love.
Please don’t waste your life in pursuit of some elusive prize, but instead, engage with this moment in a way that brings you joy. Be who you want to be and do what you love to do. A life well-lived is not defined by what you achieve but by your willingness to show up fully as yourself in love.
So don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Doing what you love to do matters because you only have . . . this moment.