WORK vs. Passion

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May 13, 2005 at 8:53 pm

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Over the years, Justin and I have each wrestled with the WORK vs. “passion” dilemma.

If you’re not familiar with it, it goes something like this — you’re good at something, maybe even great at it. It’s your passion (the word “hobby” doesn’t do it justice!)

You’re so good everyone, including your inner guidance counselor, says you should do it professionally.

So you do, at least in a part-time capacity.

And, suddenly, that which you loved becomes (at least at times) a four letter word — WORK.

One’s passion can be one’s work, but I am the first to admit it is not an easy balance to strike or maintain. Truthfully, I can’t say I’ve yet attained my “passion,” though I’m far closer to it than I was 1.75 years ago. When it works, it has many wonderful trappings — silly little things like real job satisfaction, inspiration, and pure, unbridled joy. But it’s a fine line to walk, and even the best acrobats falter from time to time. Sometimes, that passion gets sucked into behaving just like damned stress-inducing, mind-numbing, life-depriving WORK.

I sent Justin an email early this morning, after we had “One Of Those Mornings” as a married couple — a morning where you part company very frustrated and sad, not because you’re angry at one another but because you know there’s so much more to say, yet the workday has to begin and take you on your separate ways.

Basically, it was to remind him to savor his passions and not let them fall victim to being WORK. Since he works in corporate America, he has enough WORK as it is — his part-time passions, profitable as they may be — shouldn’t turn into even more WORK. They must remain passions — something that helps buoy one’s spirits, inspires, or gets one out among one’s “own people”.

Only a wife or mother could get away with saying this to a grown man, but the email included:

If I have to tell [certain clients] myself that after [your next assignment] you need to take a breather, believe me, I WILL DO THAT. We will make the money happen one way or the other, and it won’t be at the further expense of your happiness and sanity.

[….] NOTHING in our business model requires you to bust your butt 24/7.

The funny thing is, with a very few changes, the entire email I sent him this morning could just as easily have been written by Justin to me back in early 2003 or at various times since then.

I suppose one of the great blessings of our relationship is that we never seem to both crumble or meltdown at the same time — we are always each other’s backup.

In many ways, I am living Justin’s dream, and in some ways (paradoxically) he is living mine. I am the one who quit, walking away from a good salary and a terrific annual bonus to “live my dream”.

I work my own hours, in our own home among our three wonderful furry felines. But dreams are built on foundations, and let me tell you, big dreams require big foundations! There are days I wonder if I’ve walked into the beautiful light of day or merely stepped into an area where there’s no roof because the foundation’s just been laid and is not yet dry!

Meanwhile, Justin puts his nose to the grindstone every day and supports us financially, all the while managing to achieve a growing measure of the recognition and success I’ve always hoped for him in his photography and writing. He has always been the more talented and proficient photographer and I will always have much to learn from him. My laurels used to rest in my writing, but with all my “foundation laying” the past couple years, my claims to fame aren’t writing at all — they’re behind-the-scenes, in PHP snippets and the occasional inspired design solution.

We’re a match made in heaven, in other words.

But it also means we both require a strong measure of support, reassurance and encouragement in our respective passions and work.

And we get and give that.

And it’s good.

I love you, Justin. This “Spacey” gal has never been prouder of her “Dream Master” guy.

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