For years, my mom and her friend Susan ran a dried flower business, which they wittily called “The Statice Symbol.” Mom would grow many of the flowers in her garden, and then carefully dry them so she and Susan could shape them into gorgeous arrangements, wreaths, and bouquets. Then, each fall, they would travel Virginia to craft fairs and spend their days chatting with each other and passers-by. If I’m right, Mom truly enjoyed that work.
Here’s the thing though – it didn’t really make either of them any money. In fact, it may have cost them money. But they loved it anyway.
Many people don’t make money from our passions, even those of us who get to do passion-related work with most of our time. I am blessed beyond measure to get to spend my day working with words – editing manuscripts for clients, talking about writing with other writers, reading books – but as much as I love those things, I don’t love every minute of that work. Each moment is not my passion. Some of the moments are real drudgery in fact. All work – even really good work – has less than stellar parts.
My mom taught me something important about passion with her life, though. Living a passion-filled life isn’t about spending every waking minute doing what you adore most, and it’s most certainly not about working every day to make the most money. Nope, a passion-filled life is about the accumulated experience of your days. If you walk through your days with joy at waking most mornings, if you look forward to the way your work allows you to feel, if you find energy and hope in honoring other people in your occupation, if you end a day feeling good about where you have given your hours, then you have built your life in the best way.
For some people, the ability to step out of a full-time position that isn’t really ideal just isn’t an option. We have bills to pay and children to educate and dog food to buy. But I will say this, if the sum of your days does not make you happy, you need to adjust. Really. We are not meant to live our days in drudgery – that’s not life abundant or full.
My mom worked about 80 billion part-time jobs in her life – Statice Symbol co-owner, piano teacher, church music director, arts camp coordinator, garden center employee, writer – and she adored each of those things. She also enjoyed the quieter days where she could sit in her “nest” of an armchair with crochet in her hands and Candice Olson on the TV. Her days were filled in the ways that gave her joy and hope (and yarn), even if they didn’t give her lots of cash.
When she came to the end of them, while I know she probably carried some hard regrets, I think she died knowing that she had lived well and true. I could not ask for more at the end of my own days.
How are you feeling about the accumulated experiences of your days?