I know not everyone has been tracking my life (yes, I am self-centered, but not delusional), but those that are closest to me know that I’ve been in a sort of a motivational rut recently (realistically for the last few years). In 2007, I came to terms with the fact that I hated my chosen career, and found no soul in what I was doing. Being a software engineer was a fun job for a while, but left me feeling empty, and I disliked working on someone else’s agenda and with technology I didn’t fully understand. I decided to leave the daily grind of normal employment, and attempted to start an enterprise with my wife, which sadly did not succeed. Not only because I chose to start the business right before the bottom fell out of the economy, but more importantly because I did not love what I was doing, and let me tell you, the quickest way to fail at running your own enterprise is not to love what you are doing. I had the chops but no love for the work, and finally I had to pull the plug and make some radical changes. I redirected my efforts towards what I truly do love, but it’s been a real rough start.
While I’ve been taking steps toward self-actualization, it appears that along the way I’ve lost easy access to an essential aspect of my personality. In specific, I am referring to that childlike abandon that defines the Joshie Wonder and what activates me to grab you by the hand and drag you over to something cool and show it to you and expound on it until I work myself up into a frenzy about it and get you to care about it as much as I do. Let’s call it, for lack of a more appropriate term, “Passion“.
I’ve taken some heavy hits in my life over the last few years, and those hits have had a consequence of making me more timid in my own life and in my ability to feel and express joy and excitement. Add to this a complete and radical change of careers, stepping off the cliff of the collapsing job market into self-employment into a field that I practically am creating myself, and it doesn’t add up to a lot of self-confidence. In recent times I’ve gotten to the point where I dread meeting new people because I have to answer that age-old ridiculous question ‘what do you do’, like what you do somehow defines who you are (but that’s another blog post).
Over the last few years, I’ve been on my own personal journey toward rediscovering my passion. I’ve spent countless hours in therapy dealing with the ever changing me, trying to get my feet back underneath me, and while I’ve made progress and I’ve healed a lot of life-long wounds, the essential connection with that inner wonder has been elusive. The effort of trying to reinvent myself needs access to passion, and disregarding all the actual progress I have been making, it feels like I’ve been flailing about without a focus or direction, and I think part of that is a lack of passion to drive me forward.
My first Burning Man experience this past summer woke up that inner part of me that finds love and deep connection in life and in others, but no more than a month later, the old doubts and fears started creeping back in and shutting down the valve, and has left me feeling somewhat paralyzed in the face of all that I wish to manifest for myself. This isn’t to say that I haven’t been building my path and doing all the right things, but they just haven’t been coming with the sort of focused attention that I really need to succeed.
I’ve been on the verge of epiphany in regards to my issues of passion for a little while now, and on my way out to my latest therapy session, I found myself driving our van with the radio tuned to a classic rock station, and on comes the classic Led Zeppelin anthem, Stairway to Heaven. Now, usually when I’m in my car, it’s tuned to NPR or I have my iPhone dialed to play my latest audiobook — I’ve become somewhat of an old man in my media choices, and music has taken a back seat. My wife, however, is still an avid music listener, and whenever she’s been driving the car, the radio is invariably set to one of the various music presets of her design. Before I could catch myself and flip to All Things Considered, I found myself uncontrollably singing along with this high school anthem like one of the cast of Wayne’s World. I had chills, and my spirits were high. I felt like I was flying, and instantly I was transformed back into a seventeen year old hanging out with my friends, yelling “Yaboogie!” out my car window at unsuspecting passers-by.
Had I just discovered a secret that I had hitherto ignored? It seemed so simple and yet profound – the music of my youth has the ability to find its way past all my filters and the inner critic and the feelings of inadequacy and fear and self-reprisal and locate that inner core of joy that I used to so easily tap like an endless supply of life-giving water? Did music hold the power to not only make me happy, but make me passionate?
Well, music has long been a tool of evocation and has been employed in spiritual as well as secular pursuits where motivation is the goal. The effect of music on emotion should not come as a surprise, and yet it felt like a diamond laying right out in the middle of street, waiting for me to pick it up. I let the radio blare, letting the songs fill me and transport me back to times in my own life where I had little concern for others’ opinions on my personal manifestation in the world and where infinite possibility lay at my fingertips.
Perhaps it was the music, perhaps it was just perfect cosmic timing, but the last pieces inside of me unlocked and the flood of wonder came rushing back into my life. Am I transformed, without fear or insecurity? No, but I have come to acknowledge that the passion is present and ready to be tapped whenever I decide. The passion has not left me — I had left the passion; I had decided not to use my spiritual inheritance in fear and self-doubt. I can choose the passion whenever I decide, and there’s enough for me and for everyone. That gift of ‘hey, come check this out, it’s awesome’ and ‘I totally love this!’ are still here and powerful inside me, and they are resilient to the judgements and doubts of others. These are the high-octane fuels necessary to drive me towards my goals, and onward to the stars.
So, my resolution is to play more music in my life and make it part of my daily experience. The music will set me free, and fill me with the joy and the passion so desperately needed in these depleted soils, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll find myself on the other side of my goals and dreams, looking back to this moment in time when I decided to let the music play on.
What songs bring you back to a place of power and joy and passion? Let me know!