Let us say there is a man named… Fernando. Fernando knows that his passion is to paint. That’s what he wants to be. He doesn’t doubt it. Many people around him don’t know what they want to be, but he does. Also, it is important to note that Fernando is broke. He is not an heir to a large fortune, he has no other marketable skills, he hasn’t won the lotto. He’s just a painter. He majored in art. That’s what he does and as we have said, that’s all he wants to do.
The good thing is that Fernando does have an education, so luckily, he has many options. Fernando often hears that he needs to be more “practical” about his life. He cannot make a living being a painter at this moment, so he needs something else to help him get along financially–a safety net if you will. Fernando sees the facts and finds that yes, these people seem right about being “practical.” So, Fernando decides to apply to law school, because he has been told that this is the “practical” thing to do.
As a lawyer he will gain wealth and enough security to buy a house, a car, and to take care of his future family, who will not love him if he is not able to provide for them. This future family will in fact disown Fernando if he does not continually do what is “practical” for him and for them. This future family, home, car and income is of course what Fernando is supposed to want. Who wouldn’t? After all, there is no third option presented. No option where Fernando can have the family, the home, the car, the income and still pursue his passion, no. The choice is always framed as an either/or: either you pursue your passion and are broke and miserable for the rest of your life or you do what’s “practical” and have the financial and stable future you always wanted.
Not believing the third option exists, Fernando graduates from law school and after three years becomes a slave to his work. You see, Fernando didn’t realize that being “practical” would mean he would have to dedicate his whole day to this pursuit, and that he would have little time to do what he really wanted to do, which is was to paint. You see, painting gives Fernando a brightness he doesn’t have when he’s not painting. Painting gives him energy, joy, and purpose. Without it, he feels useless and empty inside.
Even now that he is a very wealthy lawyer with the home, the car, the family and the stability he always wanted, he often feel lost. Out of place. He often gets this nagging feeling in his stomach that says: I am not supposed to be here. He has panic attacks. He gets dizzy. He’s angry and he knows it’s because as the days go by he never gets the chance to paint. He knows he is alone in his feelings. The other lawyers he works with, aside from feeling a bit overworked, still enjoy their career. For them, being a lawyer is their passion.
Sitting with these people, his co-workers, he feels like a fraud. A sham. He pretends to love what he does, but he deep inside he knows he doesn’t. He is sometimes very good at what he does, and his boss commends him often for his hard work. He does his job so well that he even gets a raise. But Fernando is surprised by his own indifference to this raise. He is amazed that the money doesn’t make him feel happier as he thought it would. He still finds that the more money he makes, the more he needs. That the more he earns, the more he has to spend. The more he gets what he wants, the less satisfied he feels.
He floats around life, like a ghost. Just moving through. Checking out in the middle of work, allowing his body and mind to go on autopilot. He is surprised that no one notices. No one notices that he feels like he’s shrinking. Well, that’s not entirely true, there are people who do notice. His family does. But they do not really know what is the matter. Because Fernando doesn’t talk about it. He comes home angry and upset. His wife doesn’t understand. They fight. His children don’t understand. They fight. He is unhappy. They are unhappy.
He sacrificed all of his life for the “practical” life he never wanted. Little does he know that his wife and children would trade this “practical” life for one in which Fernando was happy. They would give anything for him to be happy. But Fernando was told long ago that his family would abandon him if he ever pursued his passion.
At night, when everyone has gone to bed, Fernando will find it hard to sleep. He will walk into his stainless steel kitchen and take out a glass of milk from the refrigerator. He will drink it and wonder how he ever ended up living someone else’s life.
What if, instead, Fernando did what was “impractical”? Let us say he puts all of his energy and time into pursuing a career as a painter, instead of going into law school. After 3 years of painting, he probably wouldn’t be making the same amount he would have if he were a lawyer, but he still would be immensely happy. No, things would not be perfect. There still would be many challenges, many drawbacks, many hard times. But generally, as a whole, Fernando would feel like he was being useful, like he was on the right track. He would no longer “check out” from the world and instead would increasingly want to be more and more a part of it. He would feel more genuine, more like himself. He wouldn’t have to constantly pretend like he was someone he wasn’t, which would mean less anxiety and less stress for him.
Painting would bring Fernando great joy because he would no longer be resisting his true nature–this in turn would improve and solidify the relationships with those around him, including his now fiance, who believes in him and supports him 100%. In this alternate universe, Fernando and his fiance decide that they will wait until they are fulfilled and happy with their own lives before having children. They would never want to burden their children with the task of living the life their parents never had. It would be unfair and counterproductive. It would force their children to satisfy their parents dreams and desires, not their own, and that would make their life miserable. For Fernando and his fiance, this scenario just isn’t practical.
Instead, when they are ready, Fernando and his fiance will have children and encourage them to pursue their own interests at whatever pace and in whatever manner they choose to decide. Their children, feeling less pressure and stress from their parents, will go out into the world more joyful and confident in themselves then they would have been otherwise. Fernando’s children will never have to wonder: Am I doing what’s “practical” right now?
No. Instead, Fernando’s children will understand that when all things are considered, it is FAR MORE practical to pursue your passion then it is not to. You are better for it. Your family is better for it, and the world is better for it.
At night, when everyone has gone to bed, Fernando will still find it hard to sleep. (Life still has its challenges, even as he pursues passion.) But in this alternate universe, after Fernando gets up and out of bed, he will walk into his studio. There, he will take out his brush and paint. The painting helps wipe away Fernando’s troubles and brings a smile to his face.
>>> Novel Update: Ch. 11 finished. On to Ch. 12.
>>> Reading Update: I will be reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Thank you Jenny for the recommendation! In fact, thank you all for your wonderful recommendations. I’ve not read most of the books you mentioned, but I will be reading them in the near future thanks to you!
>>> Blog Update: I received two WONDERFUL birthday gifts, and one of them has to do with this blog. But I’m going to keep that surprise until later on in the week.
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