I need a project that connects me with and expresses what I enjoy and what I love. I’m as happy as I can be with that in hand. Between projects, I’m, well, between projects. Casting about. At loose ends. Searching. Seeking. Wandering. Looking. Not wanting that, or that, or that. Grousing. Grumbling. Down in the dumps. Mulleygrubbing around.
It is a psychological law that an idle mind settles into a repetitive, if chaotic, pattern of negative absorption. It is as though we entertain ourselves with a fascinating barrage of spontaneous, pandemonium; unruly and disconnected thoughts of how hopeless, miserable, and pointless our lives are. When we are not concentrating and focused, we are awash in the game of Prosecution and Defense, with the balance tipped heavily in favor of the Prosecution, and the Defense haplessly whispering, “Guilty as charged.” With a cow in the kitchen, we would at least avoid the downward spiral of self-effacing thoughts and negative conclusions about our past, present, and future. Projects that we love and enjoy are to be much preferred over the cow.
One of the problems is that we have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do things we love and enjoy. Another problem is that we don’t know what we love and enjoy. So, we opt for television. How many of us have a daily routine with things we love, enjoy, and look forward to tucked away in it through out the day? How many of us have personal projects that we can “get into,” and be “swept away” by? If the focus isn’t on what we love and enjoy, it will be on what we fear and detest.
Don’t believe me? Okay, here is the test. Take a day, say Saturday, and spend it doing nothing. No TV, no music, no reading, no raking leaves. Just sitting, looking out the window. Time yourself. See how long it takes before you start feeling down, before you sense the blues coming on, before you begin to pick your life apart and recount all the things that are wrong with you. Let’s see how long you can go, with nothing to occupy your mind, before you conclude you aren’t worth another breath. A mind that isn’t occupied is a fertile field for negative thoughts and emotions. After the test, I am sure you will believe in the importance of projects that you love and enjoy.
We have to give ourselves a life. It will not happen accidentally. We have to give ourselves to things we love and enjoy. People will not stop us on the street and invite us to go with them into the light of our life. They don’t know what would light us up. They are looking for their own fires.
We cannot be passive about our life. We cannot take the “Whatever” approach to living, taking what comes along, and making do with it until we die. That’s the prescription for the pose in American Gothic. What would be your best advice to those people in that picture? Well. Tell it to yourself. Follow it yourself. Take yourself in hand and lead yourself to life. Give yourself projects that you love and enjoy. Don’t die without being alive. That’s my best advice.
No, this is: Don’t ask too much of your job. Except for a small percentage of us, our job is not our life. Too few of us are paid to do what we love and enjoy. The work we do pays the bills and enables us to do what we love and enjoy. The question is not what do you want to do. The question is what can you do that will pay you enough to enable you to do what you want to do. Ask the right questions. That’s my best advice.
No, this is: Surround yourself with the best. Spend your time with the best people, the best books, the best music, the best art, the best movies and plays. We are what we think about, what we focus our attention on, what we spend our time with. Immerse yourself in the best life has to offer. That’s my best advice.