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Do What You Love?

questions are doors

I remember that point in college where everyone started to think (and panic) about the real world, about what we'd do when we graduated. The thing is though I don't remember panicking too much, or even thinking too hard. Can this even be? I'm a creature who tends toward dilemmas and likes to debate things. And yet. There I was, all of twenty, and pretty casual about it. I knew I liked school and wanted to go to more school and I thought, Well, hey, I'll go to law school because it is practical and it will open many doors.

I thought like this. About hypothetical doors opening. About deferring my real decision about what I'd do, who I'd be. And I followed through on my plan and took the LSAT and applied and ended up at law school the fall after graduation. I didn't even consider waiting a year because I didn't want to waste any time. It seemed prudent to go straight.

And law school was fine. I enjoyed certain classes and made some lifelong friends. I was a summer associate at an esteemed firm in Midtown and then went to work there full-time for a year and a half. And then there was this moment, or rather a series of moments, when I felt, and sharply: I do not love this. I will NEVER love this.

In those moments, I thought of the only real professional advice Dad was willing to dole out: Do what you love. He never really elaborated on this and I know I felt frustrated with this wisdom at times because how do we know what we love? Dad was an odd bird and he did have the great privilege of writing and thinking and doing philosophy - all of which he adored. So it was easy for him to say this to his daughters. Do what you love.

And then something kind of magical happened. I figured it out. Rather, I awakened to something I already knew: I loved to write. The partners at the law firm where I worked often said the same thing about my briefs: Wonderfully written, but cut the metaphors. I was trying to be creative in a place where creativity (of the type I was interested in) wasn't prized. It hit me like lightning, a mere week after returning from my honeymoon: I want to leave and write a book.

And I did. I quit. I left. I began to write the book I'd finish and publish several years later. Looking back, I smile at the total foolish improbability of it all. I set off on a path guided by door-opening prudence and ended up here, doing what I love.

But. But what if we don't know what we want? What if it doesn't hit us like lightning? What if we don't have the time or energy or means to figure out what our passion is? Worse maybe, what if we do know what we love to do and we don't have the time or energy or means to do it, to make it happen?

I think about these questions sometimes. Sometimes they make me feel guilty if I'm being honest. Because I did have the time and energy and means to jump ship from a career that I knew wouldn't fulfill me to make a go of doing what I love. I guess the good thing is that I try not to take this for granted. Every single day as I sit and type words and imagine worlds, I feel a sprinkle - or a storm - of gratitude that I found it and I'm doing it. What I love.

Are you doing what you love?

Do you know what you'd love to do?

Do you think doing what we love should indeed be the goal?

In your own life, have you been motivated by door-opening prudence or heart-filling passion? Can the two be the same thing? 

Do you ever feel guilt for being able to do what you love or for having the time, energy, means to try to figure it out?

Do you ever feel resentment at the fact that others can pursue what they love?

ADR Friday Loves 02.06.15

On Nostalgia & Love