It’s sort of a thing, isn’t it? Find your passion and make it big. The money rolls right in and you just grin, wrapped in a steamy haze of passion. Off with your boredom, droopy eyes and slothful gait, on the quest to your passion, you go! The internet is ablaze with it. You must all have seen at least one Facebook post urging you to find your passion. The big it. The skeleton key that will open all the gates to your inner and external paradises. The mothership lands, you climb on board and scud off into eternal bliss, showering the earth with rose petals as you go.
It’s the grail of personal fulfillment. It must be something we can all find, if we just try hard enough. Something like a chistled six pack, multiple orgasms or a G-spot driven female ejaculation. You know it exists. If you just look a little harder, if you try just that little bit harder you’ll strike gold.
So what if despite your best efforts you can’t find your passion? What if God’s passion delivery service slips up? What if the delivery angels are doing some hanky panky in their little van one sweet morning and drop an activity chest on your doorstep containing nothing that fits?
You must be doomed to a dull and grey existence now. Not fifty shades of grey, just one particularly drap one. Ah, too bad, if only you were passionate about something, richess would follow. You would scoop up money like mud. You would wine and dine with famous contemporaries on a yacht off the coast of Montenegro.
I sort of doubt it works like this. You can be passionate about stuff and end up in horrible places. I’m pretty sure lots of First World War soldiers were passionate about going to war. I have no doubt Hitler was an extraordinarily passionate guy. We can all agree that activist groups who practically lynch women who breastfeed in public are passionate about their intolerance.
What I don’t feel with these people is that they’ve come alive. I’m talking about that feeling that is devoid of any nagging background noise. There’s no negativity to it. You are one with what you do. The surprising thing is that this feeling could hit you doing stuff you would normally expect to be doing or even be enjoying.
What makes you come alive? We can be talking about silly things. Personally I come alive when I’m surrounded by piles of my books all around me, deciding which one to read next. Or making lists. I like making lists, but I doubt I can make a career out of it. I come alive when I look at big bodies of water, that’s why I like Bratislava, there’s a lake right on my doorstep (well, not quite on it, that would be inconvenient without a boat) and the Danube river is 20 minutes away. I come alive during certain horizontal refreshments, but after reading this book on the business of male escorts, I’ve also realized I can’t make a real career doing that either. All the things that make me come alive are suspiciously maladapted to thriving in the financial areas of life…
Except for two things. I come alive when I’m working with clients, the harder the better, or when I’m being ‘borrowed’ by friends for sort of therapeutic reasons (if they are friends I can never be their real therapist). I come alive when I create a scenario, a story, a play, a video, etc. It’s a steep learning curve, but even in the second case it’s possible to make some money. Those two things are what the Japanese call my ‘Ikigai’. It’s a word that covers so much more than ‘passion’. See the diagram, it explains it all.
For me it’s helping people work through traumas, frustrations, etc. I have a natural capacity to turn pain into diamonds. I don’t brag about many things, so you’ll have to take my word for this one. And writing. But I’m a better -or more hardworking- therapist than I am a writer. I’m a lazy writer. I could imagine myself slipping up as a therapist, if I were too passionate about therapy. I know I slip up as a writer because I am TOO passionate about it. When you are very passionate about something, you lose your head at times. If were less passionate about writing, I would probably write a lot less, but perhaps I’d be more calculated about what I write and where I publish it. Now I’m so passionate about writing that I don’t think, I just throw myself at it. Like taking a machine gun to try and kill a flea on your dog’s back… Generals have losts battles because of passion. Fuck passion (except in the bedroom from time to time).
Find your Ikigai.
As I’ve found out as a therapist, well-timed self-disclosure on the therapist’s part, triggers self-disclosure on the client’s part.
I’d like to think the same goes for blogging.
So what is your ikigai?
Live an authentic day!