Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lessons for My Son: Follow Your Passion

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." -Howard Thurman

Your mama has been guilty of asking what "the world" needs and supplying it, many times over. As someone deeply interested in building community, I have often taken it upon myself to fill roles that are needed- yet left undone by others. Over and over. And it leads to burnout and resentment. Resentment is a big no-no, Rowan. As film critic and everyday philosopher Roger Ebert says, "Resentment is is allowing someone to live rent-free in a room in your head." And in Witch terms, it is giving away your power.

So a little late in life, your mama realized that a balance needed to be struck. Sometimes we need to do what MUST be done (and learn to say no sometimes), and other times we need to do what feeds our soul. If your soul is starving, you will be of no use to anyone, least of all yourself. Being "selfish" sometimes is a good thing. How is your mama selfish these days?

I am in school- studying things that I am passionate about (social justice, building just and sustainable communities, world religions), even when I am unsure how it will translate into me making a living afterwards. I am following this passion- finding out where it leads. I am confident that it will lead me to an as yet unknown place that will feed me in more ways than one.

I take time to do things purely for pleasure (although probably not as often as I should): I am crafty, have joined a witchy book club and am reading for pleasure, and I take some cheap thrills for myself now and again (like a pedicure or a latte alone).

And the most selfish thing that I have done recently is to forge ahead and have you, Rowan. You came to me in dreams for over a year before you were conceived and I knew I just had to meet you, fears be damned. I know it sounds strange, thinking of a pregnancy and childbirth as selfish (most people view them as selfless), but you are the reason I smile in the mornings (despite being smacked awake with mamamamamama as the soundtrack) and I love that the last thing in my conscious at the end of the day is your form curled up against mine, your smell in my nostrils, and the sound of your breathing lulling me to sleep. Have I told you lately how awesome you are?

In order to have you, I had to give up a few things. But you know what? Sooooo worth it. The original meaning of the word sacrifice applies here- not a martyr making resent-filled offering- but one that you joyously offer up- because that offering becomes sacred in that moment.

What I wish for you is to spend your lifetime finding what brings you joy- and pursuing those things and keeping them in your life. I will help you as a child- introducing you to music, art, dance, games, people, animals, nature, the Gods, and more- and you will tell me what motivates you. Together, we'll explore your passions, preparing you for an adulthood where you do that on your own. "If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time."- Joseph Campbell

That does not mean that following your passion is all fun an games. When you find your True Will, there will be hard work and plenty of it. Far from pointless hedonism (which is fun now and again), following your bliss requires dedication and travail. During his later years, when some students mistakenly took him to be encouraging hedonism, Joesph Campbell is reported to have grumbled, "I should have said, 'Follow your blisters.'"

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