Monday, April 28
Act Well the Part That Is Given to You – Epictetus wrote:
We are like actors in a play. The divine will has assigned us our roles in life without consulting us. Some of us will act in a short drama, others in a long one. We might be assigned the part of a poor person, a cripple, a distinguished celebrity or public leader, or an ordinary private citizen.
Although we can’t control which roles are assigned to us, it must be our business to act our given role as best as we possibly can and to refrain from complaining about it. Wherever you find yourself and in whatever circumstances, give an impeccable performance.
If you are supposed to be a reader, read; if you are supposed to be a writer, write.
I thought about the conversation I had with that guy, Jonathan, I had met yesterday at The Tea Zone. That’s the sign of a good chat – one that ressonates a day later or longer. It’s like a good finish that lingers for a lovely wine. Anyway, we talked about vocation verses interest/hobby/passion and when they can dance together. Jonathan is passionate about his music and writing, but he does web and graphic design consulting to make a living. The creative person often has to find another vocation to make a living until his or her own work can sustain him or her, professionally. Now, one doesn’t have to make his or her passion a vocation. I suppose for some, it’s enough to just be able to do the creative act.
For me, I have no choice. I must write. And the more I write, the more I improve and hone my craft. But it’s not just a hobby for me, I intend to sell books and eventually make a living from it. That doesn’t mean I intend to walk away from my vocation in the wine business. That, too, is a passion of mine. I also have a passion to cook, but I don’t wish to become a chef. And I have a passion for painting, but I don’t intend on selling my artwork. In those cases, I find the joy in simply doing the creative act.
I don’t know if my new friend will pursue music and/or writing as a vocation, but I suspect his joy in doing the work will sustain him in the meantime. He admits the web and graphic consulting he does to make a living doesn’t feed his passions. For some, a job is just a job. I wondered how long that would sustain him.
I got to a point, back when I worked at a corporate think tank in Washington, DC, that I could no longer handle working a traditional desk job in a corporate environment. So, I followed my passion for wine, quit my cubical enslavement and managed a trendy wine shop. It changed my life. I believe you have to be honest with yourself, learn who you really are and take risks to find your bliss. I don’t know how it’s possible for young people to discover this at college age, or anytime before that. I think it is human to change and evolve. I would have never imagined, back when I was choosing my major in college, that I would end up working in the wine industry. It became, essentially, a wonderful discovery I encountered simply by being honest and open.
Finding my way into the wine business allowed me to explore an industry I was interested in and cared about and removed me from the kind of work that bored me. It is much easier to be successful in a vocation or industry that you are actually genuinely interested in. And yet most people get stuck in work that doesn’t really interest or fulfill them. This is just shocking to me. Life is too short, there’s no time to settle.
So, I suppose I could say that I feel lucky, but my career path has nothing to do with luck and has everything to do with good sense, intuition and being honest and open with my wishes and desires. I am very happy that I am working in an industry that I care about, that my work still feeds my passions and fulfills me, and, moreso, that I get to work on my writing on the side with the opportunity to make that a means for making a living, as well.
Writing is my gift and I feel inclined to put my gifts to work, to, hopefully, use them to make this world a better place. We all have the power to make a difference just by following our passions, cultivating our gifts and using our talents to better society. This, I think, is the purpose of humanity, the necessity of the human race, the ultimate heart and soul of compassion and consciousness. I’m not talking about serving the ego, but extending one’s self for the benefit of others. This, I believe is precious and essential.
I suppose I am living what Epictetus preached: acting well that part that was given to me. I am doing my best to do my part, in my own small way.