All Retch and No Vomit: Do What You Love

A good friend, who is a dedicated educator, recently shared this video from the British philosopher Alan Watts on Facebook.  Watt’s central message is that there is no point to wasting a lifetime trying to earn enough money to be stable enough to finally be able to afford to do what you love to do.  His belief?  it is better to lead a short life doing what you love doing than a long life being miserable.  This is his manifesto on doing what you love, it is well worth the three minutes to watch. 

I find his message inspiring.  I love the idea that I can walk away from the daily grind to live out my passion…paycheck and responsibility be damned!  That we all should be doing what we love first and foremost.  That if we find our passion and dedicate ourselves fully to it, that we will become masters and command the living necessary to build a proper life.  It’s a great philosophy, but I have no idea if it is realistic.

And it isn’t because the idea isn’t realistic, it is because at age 47, I am not really sure I know what my one true passion is.  If someone walked in the door right now and said, “Go follow you dreams, Lori.  I’ve got the mortgage, the college tuition, the retirement account and all the day-to-day stuff covered, you just go focus on making ‘it’ happen,” I’m not sure I really, truly know what the big IT is.  And that saddens me greatly.

I have a lot of ideas, a lot of what I’ll call “little it’s” running around in my head.  But I’ve lost the ability to dream big.  In the reality of living this wonderful life — and it is wonderful — I’ve gotten so used to the caretaking and minding of others, the responsibilities required to be good at what I am required to be good at, that the dream doesn’t always get permission to breathe. 

And maybe, that is Watt’s advice, to stop doing and just figure it out.

The final words of this speech are the most impactful to me:  “…it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like in order to go on spending things you don’t like, doing things you don’t like and to teach your children to follow in the same track.  See what we are doing is we’re bringing up children and educating them to live the same sort of lives we are living.  In order that they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to bring up their children to do the same thing, so it’s all retch and no vomit — it never gets there.”

“And so, therefore, it’s so important to consider this question:  what do I desire?”  –Alan Watts

One thought on “All Retch and No Vomit: Do What You Love

  1. Children are influenced greatly by their parents and will pick up many of their good and bad habits and ideas. Parents need to be aware of how they are influencing others and try to make positive changes so they can set a good example.

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