passions vs. bliss

A couple of weeks ago, the question was “What is your passion?” My friend helped me answer it by saying that it was teaching. I was–for a reason I didn’t understand at that moment–hesitant to agree. I think I said something like, “I’m passionate about teaching, but it isn’t my passion.”

I spent the four years of undergrad working in a high school. I was a substitute teacher, and I moderated a yearbook staff. Three months before graduation, I remember telling my mom, “Whatever I do, please don’t let me be a teacher.”

Three months after graduation, I was hired as a math teacher. With no real experience and no training, my first boss said that I was a natural teacher and she could teach me everything else. I enjoyed it immensely.

After three years, I made my first attempt to “never work again.” That attempt devolved into panic as I realized that writing and photography would not pay my bills, at least not at that moment.

So, I took another job that involved both writing and photography that I thought would engage some of my other passions and allow me to cultivate a personal business. Both ideas failed. I wound up in a bigger mess than the one I had started in.

After four months of unemployment, I ended up teaching again. English this time. And I loved it for the exact same reason I did the first time. It doesn’t have much to do with the subject at all. It’s more about watching young people grow. I feel as though I learn so much from them. It’s almost not fair.

I have realized that I have many passions. There are many things that light up my soul and make me feel alive.

But for my bliss?

I’m not so sure. I don’t know that I know that “one” thing that will make me happy for the rest of my life. Then, I think is that the goal? Do I need it to be for the rest of my life? Or is it enough for it to be for today?

The one problem is that I realize that I have never fully explored some of my passions. Teaching was easy. It’s easy for me to do, and it’s easy for me to achieve. It comes with steady pay. And I think that frightens me.

My biggest fear has always been waking up at 50 and being in the exact same place I was at 22. And I hate to say that because some of the people who I love more than life itself have done that. And they have perfectly content lives. And then I wonder what is wrong with me?

I know a lot of people who are not content in what they do. I know a lot of people who dream of something else. But I don’t know a lot of people who try to find that something else.

Perhaps it is my personal arrogance. Or that damn invincibility complex that I have.

But I think that one of these days I’m going to find that Treasure. I also realize that when I find it, it’s going to be the sum total of all these experience and that without them, it wouldn’t be as beautiful or as rich.

So…my passions: writing, meditation, teaching, baseball, music, photography, sunshine, travel, the desert, reading, politics.

In that order.

My bliss: to be determined.

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1 Comment

  1. This post reminds me of the following passage from the book Man’s Search for Meaning, by Vicktor E. Frankl, which I adore.

    “These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. Thus it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. Questions about the meaning of life can never be answered by sweeping statements. ‘Life’ does not mean something vague, but something very real and concrete, just as life’s tasks are very real and concrete. They form man’s destiny, which is different and unique for every individual.”

    I love that. I, like you, have many passions and do not feel that I am destined to do just one thing in my life, but instead to follow my passions and create a thousand meanings, changing from day to day, to fulfil my destiny, which is complex and ever-evolving.

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