Passion and Purpose

Bear with me while I set you up for my current musing. Passion and purpose.

I began singing professionally at the age of fourteen. Yup. Fourteen. On stage, every weekend, for a minimal, but weekly fee. Someday, if I ever get around to scanning them, I'll share some pictures. My grandmother dressed me and you can tell. *g*

I sang professionally throughout my teens. I went on the road with a band two days after I graduated high school. I was seventeen. I sang on the road six nights a week, 50 weeks (or close to it) a year, for eight years. At age twenty-five I settled in Atlantic City and I performed almost exclusively in the casinos.

It was difficult to work as a full-time singer in one town, so I branched out. Character actress, dance motivator, emcee. Between all of these things, I managed to keep afloat, although there were times that I had to take on a day job. But even when I had a day job, I still performed. I couldn't imagine ever not performing professionally. I'd dreamed of it since I was five years old.

Over the last three years my performance schedule dwindled. The reasons are numerous. It was an adjustment. A painful adjustment. I'm happy to say I am 99.9% over it. I've moved on and I'm better for it. The passion I once felt for performing, I now feel for writing. I'm fortunate. I have friends who are only driven to perform and when the world you're used to no longer wants you--not because you've lost your talent but because you've gained a few wrinkles or lost some of your hair (Read: aged)--life loses its luster. Having experienced that mindset, I can say it's, well, beyond depressing.

This mindset does not pertain exclusively to entertainers. I merely use it as an example as it is the life I've lived. We all, each of us, have felt passionate about a hobby or job. So much so that we allowed that 'passion' to define us as a person. But what happens when life deals you a blow? What happens when knitting or fly fishing becomes difficult because of arthritis? Or when the higher-ups decide that your job (the job you love) is better suited to someone--ACK!--younger? Or more aggressive. Or more cutting edge. Never mind that you excell at your work. Suddenly, against your wishes and will, that part of your life is over. What then?

Here's my take. One must always be sensitive to opportunities and interests. One must never allow fear or laziness of any shape or form to prevent one from rediscovering passion and purpose. I refuse to believe that any of us are born with one talent, period. Nor with one passion. Nor one clearly defined, super specific, never-to-be-strayed from purpose.

Someone once asked me why I thought I was put on this earth. I answered: To make people happy. That was my gut answer and I still believe it. But I don't have to have a contracted gig to make people happy. I don't have to write for a major publisher to make people happy. There are other avenues should I need them. All that's required is a sense of adventure and a shred of determination to rediscover passion and purpose.

Are you sensitive to your interests? To opportunities? When's the last time you tried something new? What else can you imagine yourself doing whether as a hobby or job?


Barb said…
Hi Beth,
Believe it or not I would like to write a book. However, I am a chicken. Mainly I worry about the time requirements and all that grammar stuff. Excuses, I know. I'm sure I could take a course or something to brush up on proper punctuation and all that, but once again, time is required. Anyway, maybe someday I will give it a shot. I'm thinking Stuart Wood(ish)
Beth Ciotta said…
Barb, I'm not surprised. I sensed that spark in you long ago. I think you should explore this desire. Yes, there is a time investment. But the good news is, you are not under a contracted deadline. You can take your time. Write as inspired, when you can. We'll talk. :) And you would so rock in a 'Woods' way.
Kelly said…
Hmmmm. I made a career out of my hobby, although I sometimes joke that my ultimate dream job would be to work for a bookstore. After all, what's better than new books? Multiple copies of new books. :-)
Jordan Summers said…
Does trying to write an urban fantasy count? ;) I've always had other interests. They weren't necessarily creative, but some were. I'd probably go back to school. I know I'd be hard pressed to get a job in crime scene investigation, but I'd sure try.
Beth Ciotta said…
So basically, Kelly, if you're surrounded by books--in any venue--you're living your dream. :) I can see you as the owner of your own trendy book cafe!
Beth Ciotta said…
Yes, Jordan, writing urban fantasy counts. It's a stretch from what you were used to. You went for it, and it paid off! Dreams of a non-creative nature count as well. I can absolutely envision you working crime scenes. Tough work. Not everyone could handle it.
Olga said…
I'm so glad you've found new passion, Beth, and I admire your attitude. I've had a profession I was so passionate about I'd do it for free - and I got paid for it! When I had to move and leave that job, it was a very hard blow. But I've tried on new places, jobs, professions, diplomas and tried to do best with what I've got because life moves on, and so do we!
Jewell said…
Howdy, sweets.

Long time no chit chat.

As you well know, I took one of those crazy leaps. I love to read, I love to write. However, it doesn't pay the bills. (Well not my writing, anyhoo.)

But I just could not bring myself to go out and find yet another laboring job after doing that since I was twelve. I was done with it, finished, no more.

So I dived off a cliff and searched for a gig where I could read, and if not actually write, add what talent I have to help someone else.

Yep, I became one of those evil things. An editor. Gasp.

I gotta admit, I have some really bad days, but they fall to the wayside every time a book I edited goes up for sale. Even though I didn't write it, it still feels like one of my babies, nurtured and cared for.

Plus, even better, I get to interact one on one with some very talented writers and great all around people. Yes, there are moments when I have to play camp counselor, but I think that adds to the enjoyment rather than detracts.

Other than getting my own "call", I think my best remembrance is making that "call" to another new author. A joy sharing moment.

I like this new gig, so I think it will hold my interest for quite a while.

That's the great thing about life, you never really know the path plotted for you.
Anonymous said…
If there's anything besides histoy and literature, besides research and writing, it's horses. I would love to breed Frisians or Shire Horses. It will remain a dream as long as I don't find a rich husband, though, lol.

Oh, and I'd like to travel more.
Beth Ciotta said…
Olga, I'm sorry you had to leave your dream job--ouch! But it sounds like you have a great attitude. You're trying new things and one of these days one of those things is going to click and--hello--a new dream job! Hang in there!
Beth Ciotta said…
Jewell, editors aren't evil. Not the good ones. *g* And I'm betting you're one of the those. How wonderful that you found a job that utilizes your love of reading AND writing. How wonderful that you are in a position to guide and cheer on! I can imagine the leap was scary, but you sound very happy that you did. I'm betting your authors are grateful as well!

So good to hear from you my friend! Keep shining!
Beth Ciotta said…
Oh, Gabriele, what an awesome pursuit! I love horses. Although I don't have any now, I did grow up with them. Well, not WITH them. Heh. I'm hoping you trip upon a fortune. If he happens to be a loving, wealthy man, so be it. *g*
Anonymous said…
Lol, the problem is that 'loving' / 'someone I could trust and respect' and 'wealthy' so seldom go together. ;)
Beth Ciotta said…
True, true, Gabriele. But it could happen. Here's hoping. :)
Anonymous said…
I try new things when I am blocked (whether that is with my writing or my day job). Though I must admit with the other craziness in my life right now, I've been a little lack in that area.

Maybe that is why the words aren't quite flowing right now?!?

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