“What are you passionate about?” That’s an icebreaker that Joshua Fields Millburn likes to use instead of the monotonous and misused opening line of “What do you do?” The former forces one to evaluate themselves from a perspective not often thought of. Some of us have multiple passions about which we could ramble on for hours and hours. Still others would take literally several moments of prolonged awkward silence to seek out the answer. Finding the response to such a novel inquiry is actually a part of the bigger picture of the minimalist culture.
Think about some of the my past musings. Hopefully, one thing you have taken away is that part of the reasoning behind getting rid of the crap that clutters our lives and consumes our time is to better utilize those minutes and hours on the things that matter to us most. Often, that means cultivating relationships and living life through experiences had, rather than goods gathered. On the other hand, there are times where it is okay to be a little selfish and indulge in your passions. That said, we must first identify those said passions?
“Let thee embrace me, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course”
– William Shakespeare
“Embrace the suck,” is an old Army phrase. The best I can presume, based on a couple minutes worth of Googling, is that it means to come to terms with the circumstances in which you find yourself and make the best of it. For some reason, I have married this phrase with one of Joshua’s criteria for identifying a passion. Basically, he states that a passion is something for which you gladly “drudge through the drudgery”. You do the hard, nasty, shitty work in order to do / create what you love. While they might not be the perfect match, they can easily be tied to each other with only a few degrees of separation.
So, what is drudging through the drudgery? Currently, my drudgery is lots and lots of sanding. As a Mother’s Day gift to my wife, I have decided to refurbish a mismatched collection of dining room chairs to go with the farm table and bench I built this past winter. With that comes an in inordinate amount of sanding to cut through the decades represented by layers of stain, paint, and sealant. Why? Because it is a necessary part of the process of this particular brand of creating. With each minute, nay hour, that goes by spent painstaking peeling back each layer, stripping intricately designed spindles, and undoing the painting done just a day prior (because, inevitably I missed a spot and the prior stain is seeping through my white paint), I am epitomizing “drudging through the drudgery”.
Thanks to minimalism, I have been able to discover (or rediscover) a number of passions that involve creating, something I didn’t give myself much credit for having the capability of doing. Though not as often as I’d like, I am able to create shareable expressions of my family’s minimalism journey through writing this blog. Through somewhat infantile woodworking and furniture refurbishing, I am able to create pieces that have true value in them, not because of what I’ve spent on them but because of the process involved in bringing them to life. Hell, I’ve even delved into “adult” coloring books (they’re animals people, not something you’d find in the backroom of a Family Video). All of these activities allow me to invest in living a life with more purpose and discovering what passion really is.
Via these “passions” I’ve been able to discover more self-worth and rid myself of the habit of passively wasting time with social media and television (though, much more time is spent on both than I’d like, even now). Each being a means of creating something beautiful and meaningful, they all have their drudgery that is necessary to drudge through in order to create. The point is I’d be able to do none of them without the ability to “embrace the suck” and, believe me, sanding is the epitome of “the suck”.
So, what are those things / activities for which you’d gladly “drudge through the drudgery”? By ridding ourselves of the physical and philosophical clutter, we are able to better identify that which brings us true joy. Take a moment a reflect on that which allows you to feel as if you are living a life on purpose. If you feel the inkling, drop a line or two and share what you are passionate about.