When I was a young person in my teens, I fretted about what I would be when I grew up. My fear was not that I would not have the education or resources to embark on a career, rather, that I would not have the motivation to pursue a career. I just could not imagine what I wanted to do? Sure, there were things I loved doing, things I was passionate about – like helping people, uncovering mysteries and my favorite – dance. But, all these things were hobbies – at least, to my parents. They explained to me that these were not things to be taken seriously as possible careers. Their hearts were in the right place but their method of guiding me led me down a path of depression and hopelessness. It wasn’t until I left home that I began to discover who I was and where I was going, that I realized that these “passions” and hobbies were actually the doors to my future and the key to my careers and my happiness.
I did become a minister and a counselor and I helped a lot of people. Saved marriages and brought some back from the abyss of depression. It was deeply gratifying. I also loved the idea of being a detective (a la Nancy Drew), but threw this idea out. I decided I loved mystery, in general, and research, but not the work of searching for criminals. And, I did become a dancer – a successful professional dancer. Not a ballerina, (which was synonymous with dance for me as a child), but, a belly dancer.
My choice could not have been more esoteric and off the grid of mainstream life ~ or more disconcerting to my parents. Today, with globalism, world culture is accepted, more or less. But, back in the 60’s and 70’s being a belly dancer was tantamount to being a circus carnie or a prostitute! So, it took courage when I finally made the first step towards a career in dance. This happened the moment I saw my first belly dancer. A passion I had kept squelched ignited, I shed my ugly duckling persona and I began classes. As time passed, I transformed into a beautiful white swan!
Here’s what I have come to realize over the years. We are all designed to do some things better than others. Sadly, very often, our parents and our culture – in the name of good parenting and education - teach us that art is bad. That you’ll be poor and miserable as an artist. That everyone should be a doctor, a lawyer, a CPA or Engineer – or get a job in a factory or marry a rich person. Do what you should do and the money will follow.
But not everyone can and should be these things – some of us have to do the work as artists, mothers, teachers and caretakers and healers – work that usually does not lead to wealth. However, the world needs artists, mothers, teachers and healers – or it will not be a healthy place to live and any dreams of a higher civilization will never come to fruition. And, who knows, perhaps someday in the future, artists WILL be the wealthy ones and then the bankers, investors, lawyers, doctors and engineers will have to have the bake sales to raise money to fund their work.
I have a fully developed right brain and no left-brain at all. For example, I could never handle numbers for numbers sake - bookkeeping was my nemesis. Pragmatic things bored me to death, and I was horrible at them! But drawing, singing, interior design, dance, acting, flower arranging – I was a natural. If I had followed my parents advise I would have failed utterly in life. Bless their hearts for caring about me and wanting me to avoid a life of poverty. They were right to want me to find prosperity, but wrong about how to do that, and to make it more important than happiness. Because, you know, there are worse things than physical poverty – like not living a life doing what you love, and never loving what you do. That’s a wasted life. That is spiritual poverty.
We artists need to be true to our passions and follow our dreams and do the good work. For ourselves and for our children. Follow our dreams – and if and when we have a child/children, observe them and see what they love and what they are good at. Encourage them to pursue their passions. Help them devise a way to make it work so that they DO make money at it! And, most importantly, have faith that they will succeed.
I say, when it comes to vocation or/and avocation, do what you love – some money will follow, but more importantly great satisfaction and contentment will most certainly follow. And, you will come to the end of your life knowing you were true to ourself.