It’s your Life, live it your way! Don’t worry about what others want you to do. Only do what makes you happy.
What gives you joy is often seen by others as a foolish choice. And they go on chiding you for it. This is a conundrum that you are faced with all the time. Mostly people who are hugely creative and who have chosen to follow their bliss have to face such sentiments. An aspiring musician is, for instance, always reminded that unless you are a “successful” musician, there’s no money in the field. An artist is forever advised that art does not pay enough or steadily! A wannabe actor is warned of the struggles that await her in the industry which neither remunerates beginners well nor does it respect them. A talented cricketer often has to hear horror stories of how murky the affairs of the game are. So, at every stage, if you want to do something different, you are directed to choose “a stable, paying career” – and though your heart may not be in it, you end up becoming a salaried professional. Those who succumb to such social, peer or family pressures, often times, live intrinsically incomplete lives. Actually, they don’t live. They just earn a living!
Without doubt, those who choose to walk where their bliss is leading them do encounter hurdles every step of the way. They never have enough money in the initial stages of their career, yet they are so happy with themselves and what they do. I know of an amazing artist named Sudarsan Yennamalli. He’s an outstanding painter, a gifted photographer and a soulful musician. www.sudarsanyennamalli.in At 38, he’s at peace with himself. I saw his works at an exhibition over a year ago. He defines painting as “meditation”, as a “soul-searching” process for himself. I am sure Yennamalli faces his own set of existential challenges. But that he is in bliss is evident in his work – be it in his art or photography or music. They are simply soul-stirring, because, as he reports on his website, they reflect “peace and harmony” – two things that we are always searching for.
All of us have to work our way up our Life’s ladders. There’s no elevator to success really. The difference between those who do what they love doing and those who choose to postpone doing what they love for the sake of “stable, paying careers” is simply this. Stable careers assure you a monthly income to raise and support a family. Unconventional and creative career choices don’t offer you that unmatchable benefit of “financial stability”. Those who postpone living the Life they want to, do so at the risk of not living them at all, or finding that when they are finally ready, they have too little time left to live. And those who embrace what they love from day one, from the day they know what is it that gives them joy, live challenged at a material level alright, but are always anchored in inner peace and joy!
So, it really boils down to what you want from your Life. And only you can decide that. Not your family, not your friends, not society and certainly not the world! Let me tell you a Zen story of some fish and a turtle.
There was a turtle who lived in a lake with a school of fish. Once the turtle went for a walk on dry land. He was away from the lake for a few weeks. When he returned he met some of the fish.
One of them asked him, “Mister turtle, hellooooow! How are you? We have not seen you for a few weeks. Where have you been?”
The turtle replied, “I have been spending some time on dry land.”
The fish were a little puzzled and one of them asked, “Up on dry land? What are you talking about? What is this dry land? Is it wet?”
The turtle said “No, it is not.”
“Is it cool and refreshing?”
“No, it is not.”
“Does it have waves and ripples?” asked a teeny weeny fish.
“No, it does not have waves and ripples,” replied the turtle.
“Can you swim in it?” asked a pretty gold fish.
“No, you can’t,” said the turtle.
So the oldest fish in the school said, “It is not wet, it is not cool, there are no waves, you can’t swim in it. So this dry land of yours must be completely non-existent, just an imaginary thing, nothing real at all.”
The turtle said, “Well, you fish will never quite understand” . He then swam away from the fish and went for another walk on dry land.
This is how it is in Life too. Only you can understand what gives you joy. And when you do, just follow your bliss. There’s no point in waiting for approval from people who can never quite understand what your bliss is!