Replying To A Friend
📚 Story of the Week #33
What a pickle. I know you’ve been searching for a cause to sink your teeth into. It’s a maddening task, trying to decide which fire to fight when you’re standing there with only one hose, and it looks like the world’s ablaze. Then there's the tragedy that follows making a choice. First, there's the guilt that comes with orphaning the unchosen causes, as you implicitly judge them to be unworthy of your attention. As that feeling fades, another one rises up to take its place – what if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew?
We end up becoming the protagonist at a cursed birthday party, blowing out our candles, only for the flames to reignite. Smiles fade, as we huff and puff, the flames waving at us with feigned fear, knowing they've got us licked. We're left red in the face, questioning whether we’re up for the task, or if we've miscalculated. Perhaps what seemed like a great pairing at first blush is actually a titanic mismatch between the skills you have and the ones required.
The first part of the equation is the most important: choosing something for the right reasons. There are prestigious causes, ones that promise money, and ones that promise power. Doing things for these reasons alone provides a matchstick comfort, a fleeting feeling of fulfilment. But eventually their light sputters out and the darkness comes crashing back in around us, as the pursuits of power, money, and prestige are infinite: we can always have more, so we always want more. That would be fine if these pursuits offered a wholesome meal in isolation. However, once we’ve secured the essential amount for the sake of dignity and security, they become side dishes, and the soul is left craving a meal that’s a tad more hearty.
I wonder if how people go about choosing the charities they donate to will help you in your search for a purposeful career?
In the Venn diagram of everything that has happened in our lives, there are a few charities that sit in the middle, representing the set of hyper-personalised causes we want to support with our purses or wallets.
Running a similar exercise on career options, how do the experiences, skills, interests, people, and opportunities in your life overlap with one another to form a noise-cancelled cluster of options that you would be well-suited to?
Once you’ve chosen your field, it’s then a matter of honing your craft. Not necessarily because it’ll pay more, result in praise, or unlock an ancient artefact that’ll allow you to remake the world in your own image. No. It’s for the feeling of purpose and fulfilment that follows when you look down from time to time and see where you started, and how far you’ve come.
P.S. ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ is a documentary exploring the life story of a man who took this mentality to heart. For anyone wrangling with finding their calling or the art of living, I would recommend giving it a look. It's a film that gave me a great deal of comfort when I wrap up university and thought, 'Now what?'.