This weekend we finally moved everything out of our storage facility. Sorting through all of that was terrible. If you have ever kept stuff in storage then you know as long it is out of your sight, you could care less if you ever see it again. But then you see it and you realize your wedding album is in there, your babies first shoes are in there, the letters you wrote everyday to your best friend in middle school are in there.
It was like being in a personalized junk yard, a dusty version of “This is Your Life.” Every item we touched was like a portal to another time, one out of every twenty things we found was a keeper. We did yet another round of throw away/give away/store away. We have about twelve boxes that are going up in the attic-mostly keepsakes and holiday decorations. Then we had a car full of stuff that we both determined we wanted in our house, our tiny house with few walls and no cabinet space. These treasures rescued from our junk yard have made it through six moves. They are the little pieces of gold and rubies that you find after sifting through piles and piles of dirt.
After all that work and all this time, what did we decide to keep? Games, children’s books, art and personalized gifts. We could have lived without them. We have for the past two years. They are not essentials by any means, but when they found their spot at our new house, it felt like this part of my life I was prepared to surrender found its way back to me.
I promised you that we would talk about what it means to do work that is your passion. I asked you to revisit a definition of work you must do to make a living (essentials) from the work you must do to be fully alive (passions). I challenged you during these 30 days to let yourself explore if the work you are doing is actually working.
My best friend from middle school is staying with us right now (which is why I didn’t send out Day 29 until after midnight) and we were talking about the greatest myths of our generation (because that’s what we do). We believe that one of those myths is that you aren’t doing the “right thing” unless you are making a living doing something you are passionate about.
Sometimes these two things can and will be the same thing. Sometimes there is someone out there making millions doing what they love to do. It does happen. But it also puts a lot of pressure on us to know what we are passionate about and a lot of pressure on our passions to perform for us. It is easy to lose the freedom to write, create, cook, explore, learn and share what we love when we have to check in with how that will or will not “sell.” It is not something we are allowed to give away because we need it to take care of us.
When we work to take care of our essentials, including rest, we set up a foundation that supports creation, generosity, care, contribution, even passion.
But passion does not do the dishes. No, she doesn’t.
Last year, it felt like I gave up everything. I let go of dreams, hopes, plans, obligations, the ideas I had of how I thought things were supposed to be, and who I thought I was going to be.
It was sad and painful and a huge relief. For the first time ever, I let myself just be the not so new, definitely not improved version of me.
Here I am, in all of my glory…emptying the dishwasher.
From my humbled place in the universe, I began to repair. All of the sudden (it did feel that way, like nothing happened forever and then it all happened), I could hardly sleep at night because of the ideas, dreams, visions and passion that were bubbling up from deep in side of me. I wasn’t trying to be passionate. I wasn’t digging deep to discover my life’s purpose. It just happened. And it wasn’t anything amazing. It was just amazing to notice, practice and experience life moving like that inside of me again.
Tiny little pieces of gold remained after all that sifting.
It is different now. Before, my idea of passion contained tremendous energy driven by a lot of fear of failure and inadequacy and it was regularly interrupted by the annoying and often boring problems of real life. I needed life to leave me alone so I could follow my passion.
Now it all feels pretty even. Emptying the dishwasher feels as important as having coffee with new and old friends on the front porch. It used to feel like everything was too loud or off, now the volume is at a level we can listen to all of the time, the sounds of home. Nothing feels like the end of the world or the answer to all of our problems.
When you rest, you are able to be you in this world (that really needs you to be you, by the way). Not manufactured, manipulated, striving, trying to be you in world–actually bringing your vulnerability, talent, human kindness, abilities, compassion, structure, care, humor…and yes, even passions to our planet.
Well, this is the end. Day 30. Getting to do this with you is the kind of work that makes me feel alive. It was beyond fun to take pictures, come up with little phrases, and figure out what I was going to write to you each day. To wake up in the middle of the night to write or choose to take pictures instead of taking a nap is the best evidence I can give you that the passions, the energy and the clarity of “what you should be doing with your life” will come…in the right way, in the right time, but maybe just a little slower, a bit quieter than you were expecting.
May your life overflow with purpose and passion that energizes you and generously spills over onto others.