Doing What We Love

Before Flannery O’Connor was a great writer, she was a student at an Iowa writing workshop. Which is to say, before she was a great writer, she put herself on the path to becoming a great writer.

A man in our church is a potter. He is doing what he loves. But his path to being a potter wound through college, an artists training center in Tennessee, and a masters degree at one of the finest universities in the country. He still is not making his living making pots. But he, and his wife, also a potter, care enough to pay the dues, invest the effort, and perfect their craft.

I am appalled at the tendency I see in me to want to accomplish things without investing the effort necessary to do them well. I want to accomplish without paying the dues. I want to excel without focus. Perhaps that works in the case of a few geniuses (Mozart comes to mind). But for the vast majority of us, we need to find what we love, and then devote ourselves to pursuing it with every ounce of passion we have.

Success in anything demands, of course, that we have some endowment of gifts. But an endowment is not sufficient. The commitment to pursue what we love has to come with it.

While I was ruminating on this, several quotes passed by me, profound and not. My favorite is the last.

“Do or do not… there is no try.” – Yoda

“Baseball is 90% mental – the other half is physical.” – Yogi Berra

“You can’t help but remember what Faulkner is alleged to have said when asked whether he wrote daily or only when the inspiration hit him. It’s said he replied that he wrote only when the inspiration came, but that he made sure it came every morning at ten o’clock sharp when he sat down at his desk.” – Rick Bass

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One thought on “Doing What We Love

  1. The Domestic Intellectual

    This is something I struggle with, primarily because many of the things that I love to do come with relative ease. If it is easy in the beginning, it is hard to push through to a high level of competence. As a linguist friend told me once: I can get a B with no work and it takes a ton of work to get an A, so I’ll take the B. It has been hard for me to shake that attitude.

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