whatever your work, let it be how you care (for you + others)

“Not ALL people can or will follow their passion even if they could find it … Someone’s still gotta take orders at McDonald’s, haul the garbage, answer the phones, install the cable. If all of us were destined for ‘living the life we were meant to live,’ nobody would do those jobs!”

If you think this or honour this in any way, I understand why.

Does this sentiment sound familiar?

Maybe you even talk to yourself this way?

Only consider how invalidating this to yourself and everyone around you.

Who would ever dare to make their dreams come true in your presence? Who would tell you their most cherished secret wishes? Or confess their true loves to you? Or reveal their passions that they hide in shoe boxes or the basement that would make you weep with joy you were allowed to see? Who have you already lost in your life that you didn’t want to lose because you speak and think and act from this place?

It would be really hard to be you too. Right? Thinking this, you would be the saboteur of living a life worth your own while. You would never really value anything that you do because you’re the one doing it.

This is what you tell yourself when you view a life of passion as something more important /grandiose /spectacular /extraordinary than the existence of day-to-day life. Like passion is for some humans and not others. Like being human is for some and not others. And like passion isn’t a human experience.

There are people – and I was one of them – who began their career literally taking orders and answering the phones for very little money. Money that afforded only very basic survival needs. For me, this was time spent in my day that I actually enjoyed.

(But most hardly consider work as a way to fancy spending time. Though it could be.)

It is a choice you make when a job that covers your survival needs is a job that you have to dislike (or worse … hate). Or that jobs you put up with now will lead to a place you love someway … somehow.

If you work, you will get paid. Whatever your stance for working.

Your orientation to the reason for working is completely up to you.

Suffering or bliss. Pain or joy. “Have to” or “want to.” You choose.

In what most people think of as their “dead end” or “loser customer service job” (Western-world-caste-system-thinking at its best), I discovered the magical feeling of connecting to people by really hearing them and helping them to make choices they felt good about.

Unfortunately I could not see this at the time. I was working for pain and payment because that’s what was modeled for me as worthy of respect. I ignored and was blind to this bit of information for more than a decade.

If it didn’t feel hard, then I must be lazy. So I focused on what was hard.

But that’s the humbleness of passion. It awaited my acknowledgement.

And it led me to here. To what you’re reading now.

Not ever do I nor have I demeaned what I used to do to pay my bills because it all helped to shape me and in return was shaped by me.

No matter your work, it can be your venue for kindness, consciousness, compassion, for building and sharing your expertise as well as fulfilling the basic human need for contribution … yes, while getting paid.

Work is a journey, a pilgrimage of identity … not a destination of security and benefits with four weeks of vacation a year (if that).

A former client of a program I used to work at was an alcoholic. Scared that she didn’t have the capacity to work again ever, yet daring to rebuild her confidence by restocking the shelves at the local department store at night mostly in solitude. Assumed unglamorous. Assumed not a worthwhile job.

In the process she (re)discovered that the labels on the goods are a study in design – a love interest she’d always turned away from because it was in the fabric of who she is and who she is was demeaned in her family of origin. Yet it’s this love that saved her. This led to work in the printing business, which led to work as a photographer.

No starving artist here.

And another former client of mine, a success in the movie industry (has Martin Scorsese as a reference) needed to re-think his career approach by deciding to work in a funeral parlour for awhile (loved it so much, it surprised him and changed him). He returned to the movie industry after completing an inner transformation. To do the same work, but as a different person. A person that gets paid in money and joy.

This terrain on the journey doesn’t get crossed overnight. But the transition and bridges and chasms are crossed by honouring the uniqueness of a life.

Remember – no one and nothing can take away your experiences, contacts, friends, and skills. Working for the fun of it is a relief on a weary journey when something fundamental needs to change from within. Even if it’s working at McDonald’s, answering phones, restocking shelves, or preparing for funerals. People do it anyways, it’s just a secret. We need all kinds of jobs because they serve us as well as giving us venues to serve.

(How come it’s a secret? Because people love the “shortened movie version of real life” and “real life” actually takes longer than 2 hours to unfold. Stories like this are better revealed in hindsight And like I said, if anyone around you thinks or honours the quote that began this article, why on earth would you tell them your truth!? They don’t want to know and it would be a waste of your time to tell them.)

Then … Watch clarity can settle in.

Watch how you value your time and what you do, no matter how insignificant it seems to people significant in your life (e.g. mom, dad, spouse, sister, brother, nameless strangers) or people insignificant in your life (e.g. mom, dad, spouse, sister, brother, nameless strangers).

This is how you get to want to live your life and no other.

Because when you choose for work that which is caring toward yourself, you actually feel cared for by the work that you do.

Question du jour (that’s question of the day): Looking back on the past career stepping stones of your life, what moments have given you joy that you have ignored for all this time?

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