We live in a culture that often places higher value on what we do and produce than it does in who we are.
That’s an afterthought, if it’s considered at all.
For much of my life, putting the things I was required to do ahead of those I wanted to do was touted as responsible and mature behavior, and spending time on passions was seen as lazy and irresponsible. It was only a few years ago that I stopped echoing those opinions in my own mind.
Many of us, as young children, were initiated into the realities of school, where good grades, homework, and classroom participation were the watchwords of success, and staring out the window rather than at the blackboard, preferring bicycles or cats to more books and lessons on a magical late-spring evening, or a fascination with topics not covered in the curriculum were deemed underachievement and lack of motivation.
I was labeled an underachiever in school. I made decent grades, but I was often told that if I just ‘applied myself”, I might have done far better. No one ever questioned whether I wanted to do better; that’s what was expected, after all.
Today, decades later, I am into my second year of serious writing. I’ve at last embraced the desires of of my soul, and I’ve given up feeling guilty about that. To me, it feels like revelry, or a stimulating challenge. Even the stuck or dry times, when the words run dry, have their own charm. When there are no words to write, I have time to read, and watch television, surf the Internet, play more with the kids and the pets, tendto our home, and plan time with friends without the pull of one story or another tugging me away… those are the refilling times, and they have their own value.
Value may be the key.
How much have we learned to value those things that draw us, fascinate us, exist like shiny gemstones in our souls? How much do we value our unique and irreplacable selves, and the gifts that only we can offer?
I am now 43 years old, closer to 44. I’ve worked a variety of jobs, always in direct service occupations, where I could offer of myself and connect with others. I’ve come to realize that my own ways of exploring and experiencing the world provide me more learning, and more textured understanding, than I could ever learn in a classroom, or from a textbook.
The things that once were my failings have become my strengths. Those long hours spent reading, and writing stories, sharing intimate details of my life with my best friend, and nurturing felines have all proven useful, in a variety of ways: making me a better wife and mother, a keen observer of human nature, motivation, and body language, giving me an appreciation of imagination, imagery, and story…all things that feed my writing, and my life.
I watch my children living a very different life than I lived at their ages, one that honors the things that they choose to spend their time and energies on, and does not fill their days full of anyone else’s ideas of what holds value. I can trace these pastimes back to their babyhoods – because the seeds of what they are passionate about today were there in their infant delights.
I wonder where these passions will lead them – they are in a constant state of evolving and refining their passions, and exploring side trails and tangents that lead them to still others.
And I wonder how I might have been, who we might all be, if value ourselves enough to take time each day to learn what fires our souls, and then, boldly, claim our right to immerse ourselves in it, and in the inner reaches of ourselves.
How can you value yourself this week, and beyond? What fires you up? What would you do with a free day, and ready resources…? What can you do right now that will tickle your fancy? Make a list, a collage, a comment – or just daydream about it, and see what arises….
I love comments and conversations, and there’s a fresh pot of coffee, and giggling coming from the other room – won’t you join us?
- Coffee and Conversation: My Inner Editor Steps Out (shanjeniah.com)
- Where Dan Pink, Ken Robinson and Austin Kleon Intersect: True Learning Happens (donnaroman.wordpress.com)
- Learning What You Love in High School – Finding Your Passion (bigfuture.collegeboard.org)
- Passion Based Living and Learning (21stcenturycollaborative.com)
- Gamification Alternative to Grading? (educatoral.com)