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March 28, 2011


Um, is it ok if I read some irony into that last paragraph?

I can't be sure of the level of irony here, so for the sake of argument, let me just take the post straight. I think the notion "Do what you love and the money will follow" was always a remote dream for most, but yes, it is probably getting even worse today, as the production of "content" of all forms is increasingly hobbified and unpaid. So I think the only realistic model is "Do what you love, and do something else (that you don't dislike) for money." That leads a lot of us to teaching, for obvious reasons.

But whatever activity it leads to in the second category, it is important to preserve free time for the first category, and that, in turn, often means forgoing a "normal" or conventional family or romantic life. In other words, it is not usually possible to work eight hours a day at the secondary money-making activity, come home to the spouse and kids and house, and also keep up the beloved primary activity.

Well, I didn't say this was going to be easy. But I have found throughout my life -- I am 52 now -- that I can make some (not much, but enough) money, and maintain all my interests and creative outlets, by opting for an unconventional and frankly semi-monastic kind of life. Surprisingly perhaps, it is also a reasonably satisfying one.

Everyone's solution will be different, of course. But trying to "have it all" is usually not practical. Something, somewhere, has got to give. Only you can decide what that something needs to be.

So far I've foregone the niceties of a house, a family, a car, or a garbage disposal. Maybe I'm still screwing myself over by eating foods other than rice.

Hey, rice is good for you! I eat rice almost every day!

Seriously, though, it is one thing to accept temporary privations as a condition en route to making it and "getting to work hard at what [you're] good at," and quite another to accept privations as an ongoing precondition of getting to do what you're good at in your spare time, for little or no monetary compensation. Do you love what you love that much? That's the question. Many don't, and that's OK too. Most people can't accept the trade-offs involved in the pursuit of a true avocation -- first and foremost among them that it is an avocation.

Absolutely the worst stumbling block in your one wish is the phrase "to only do that." That is where the fantasy and its likely unrealizability is concentrated, in those four little words.

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