Finding your passion


Dear big sister

I planned a different post today, but I wanted to reply to your post first. So here it goes: It is not true, that you do not know how to do things. That you don't have a passion you have worked on for years. For as long as I can remember, you have made things. Different things, of course but there were always projects. I remember very clearly being a part of a little film you made when you were 13(ish). I remember admiring the rococo-dress you made when you were 16. I remember a couple of Christmases ago, when you came up with a beautiful table decoration, just quickly.

Maybe part of the way to get there were shortcuts. But you know what wasn’t a shortcut? Starting another creative project, each time you finished the one before or lost interest. That is still continuity. That is a passion. A passion for the creative process. A passion for your own curiosity. I believe it is a socially constructed idea that everyone has to have one true passion, one true skill. A dancer becomes a dancer because they love the process of dancing. That is what truly matters about finding what you love. Of course it takes practice and failure to perfect a skill. But if you are not intrigued by and in love with the process of it, then you will not restart after every setback. 

That is, in my opinion, why the quick-fixes "Play the cello in just three easy steps" doesn't work, and why the results don't gratify us as much as they promise to. Because it was never about the result in the first place. This really bothers me about the culture we live in. The process is often forgotten, or even purposefully reduced to be irrelevant. How many times has someone complimented you on a photograph and you said: "Oh, that was just a quick snap". Or someone complimented your cooking and you said: "What? This? I just whipped this up." 

Our culture is so focused on results, it makes the process look easy. Being proud of things we make is often unacceptable. This brushing off of compliments sends the wrong message in two different ways. Firstly, it undermines the accomplishment of the maker. That in return, diminishes the worth of the result. If we think we can replicate this thing in 20 minutes, it loses what makes it special. This is why people believe they can "learn ballet in 5 easy steps". No you can't. It's really hard. 

Secondly, what happens when we brush off a compliment is, that the artist forgets how special such a skill actually is. It becomes normal. If you realize, that you just created something that any random person could not have made in just three easy steps, that deserves respect. But ignorance of this is the true problem. I had a conversation about the Olympics with a friend the other day. He suggested letting just a random person from the audience compete, just to show how truly amazing those athletes are. Because if you compare the 10 fastest runners in the world, the loser of that race is still very fast. But after losing that race, he probably doesn't feel very accomplished. He takes his skills for granted and so do the millions of people watching the olympics. 

So I just want to list a couple of things that I am pretty good at, but take for granted a lot of the time: Cooking, baking, finding new ways to let out my creative energies, collecting journals, food photography, being curious, to put myself in someday else’s position, understanding complex societal and political processes, creative reading and, of course, writing haikus.  

Here is a list of things I think you are pretty good at: photography, giving advice, listening, cooking, improvising, all of the physics things I don't understand, inspiring others, mediating in fights, being silly and decorating, just to give a few examples. Don't let the notion of the end result keep you from enjoying the process. It isn't one all-powerful passion that creates happiness. Lots of little ones are just as good. Doing them right is what counts.  

And, just for the record, I do not think you are impatient with all of your projects. Just one example: you are literally the only person I know with a hand-sewn outfit in the style of the middle ages. Seriously, I would have probably given up after the bonnet. 



P.S. I loved the cookies. I just ate the last of them while writing this.

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