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Painting by Frank Ettenberg

“Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It takes so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the enlightenment or the courage to pay the price… One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.”

~Morris West

Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.

~ Henri J.M. Nouwen ~

Passion is required to make art, true, but passion is required to do anything well, according to Joseph Campbell and others.

I know a lot of people object to that word passion. It seems a little excessive, a bit overblown and unnecessary to some folks. Why can’t we just be diligent and persistent and get the job done?

But you can’t drum up passion where none exists. You can’t manufacture enthusiasm.

Passion comes from that place in you where natural talent, personal mission and opportunity meet. That white hot energy forges its own path and speaks with its own voice. External goals on offer by the culture that don’t connect with that innate locus of interest are dead on arrival, stillborn.

Anyone fighting with themselves to be successful in spite of their inherent boredom is tilting against windmills. That’s where a lot of us are trapped. Trying to be successful without connecting to a natural drive is a losing battle. Even if you make a good living that way, you know you’ve missed your reason for existing.

Our culture extolls the tricks and cunning that make money. We imagine that if we’re smart we can calculate the right steps to take that lead to that coveted pot of gold. So, what does love have to do with it?

I think love has everything to do with it. Living a life of passion is living a life of meaning. No amount of money can replace a meaningful life. You have to go all in. You have to commit your best, deepest, truest self, as you would in a marriage or bringing children into the world. Living on the surface of yourself is a betrayal of your birthright.

But isn’t that what we are taught? Aren’t we taught to admire people who can override all but their focus on material profit? After years of living in such a society and enduring its lessons it’s a wonder we still have souls.

The give and take of making a life of true interests, of passions, grow us a soul because that’s where the soul lives. It lives through love in all its intensity and devotion. It carries its own discipline and intelligence. It goes forth with natural persistence. Its focus has genius in it. That’s why it has a better chance of succeeding even on the financial level.

The teachings of our culture have the cart before the horse when it comes to success, money and choosing the best way forward in life. I say first we must find out how we are made, what has natural attraction for us, what we will do regardless what money is involved.

Then, we can start. Then we can try to figure out the marketing part. Then we will have a chance to produce something the world needs.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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