I heard a recording of an excerpt from an Alan Watts lecture called “This is why you’re not happy.” and it started with the questions “What do you desire? What makes you itch?”
That alone is a question that at least for some of us is not easy to answer. I always admired and envied those who seemed to know early on what it is they wanted in life and pursued this with a passion. But I think we also struggle to answer this because we seem to feel the need to limit our answers to those which are not frowned upon and will first and foremost pay the bills.
So when Mr. Watts asked his students which were confused about what to do after college “What would you like to do if money was no object?” and he felt that it was amazing that as a result of our kind of educational system, many of the students answered that they’d like to be painters, poets or writers, “but as anybody knows, you can’t earn any money that way.”
But I think if you feel that urge in you to express yourself creatively as an artist, there really is no choice and what you need to do is let go of the fear that you might not “make it” and never make any “real money” doing this, whatever that means. The real gift is to be able to do it and the reward lies in the painting you painted, the poem you wrote and the photograph you made.
To go on spending your life just making money doing something you don’t really feel like doing is a complete waste of time.
“Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.”— Alan Watts
Once you committed to really be with whatever it is you feel like doing, you will inevitably become a master of it, because that is the only way anyway. And, like Mr. Watts says “then you will be able to get a good fee for it.”
So the money might eventually come, I wouldn’t even care if it didn’t and I think it is important to see it that way. Although money will make it easier, it must not be the reason to do something, to begin with.
To be able to think like this one has to let go of something else and that is the need to control everything. The need to live a life with a predictable future and an all-encompassing feeling of security, which would be an illusion anyway. And in order to do that, to let go of those needs and bring real change to one’s life, you’ll have to accept that there are ups and downs, that the pleasant surprises come with unpleasant surprises. That there is a white for every black.
Beneath and beyond all those thoughts is the letting go of everything, the acceptance that everything is changing all the time and that there will be an end to everything that ever started. And how all of this is a good thing and will free you to do exactly what it is you want to do.