There are countless hundreds of thousands of self-help articles out there, almost all of which state that to find success and wealth one must be doing what one loves.
Well, yesterday I wrote about My Love of Washing Dishes. While that might make me a weirdo, it happens to be true. I truly love washing dishes (by hand). It brings me great joy.
So does that mean that in order to find success and wealth I need to apply for a dish washing job at some local restaurant and work my way up the ladder of the dish washing profession? I don’t think so.
First of all, I don’t think there is a ladder in that profession. It’s a bottom-rung job with no hierarchy. I have never heard of anyone getting fabulously wealthy and successful washing dishes. There may have been some people who started out washing dishes and then became successful after they moved beyond that but they did not get wealthy continuing to wash dishes.
I have imagined what it would be like to get a job as a dish washer. I’ve pictured myself with a kitchen apron on standing in front of a large industrial stainless steel sink washing dishes for eight hours a day, five days a week.
You know what would happen if I did that? My supreme love of washing dishes would flush right down the drain along with all the dirty dish water. How can I sustain my spiritual love of washing dishes for eight hours a day? And even if I could do that I certainly would not become rich and successful. I love washing dishes but getting paid for it would surely ruin that. Money can sure screw things up.
Of course, money doesn’t have to always screw things up.
Maybe I’m just not being creative enough. Maybe I could write articles about dish washing. Perhaps I could do dish washing podcasts or videos. I could write a book about it or maybe a screenplay for a dish washing movie. I could give $400 a ticket dish washing seminars. I could become the Tony Robbins of dish washing. I could build an ashram and invite people from around the world to come wash dishes with me.
I don’t think so. Washing dishes is something I truly love to do and I want to keep it that way. And it’s a private thing. I don’t do it for an audience. My dish washing has no expectations attached to it; no dreams, no desires, no hopes, no money, no success, no competition, no ego, no plans. It’s just something that brings me great pleasure and peace. I love doing it but I’m not going to make a career out of it.
So anyway, the more I’ve been thinking about dish washing lately, the more I’ve been thinking about writing. Writing is something I love to do, too. Unlike dish washing, however, I write for money. Just this past month I made enough money to pay for a month’s worth of internet access. That’s a good thing because it allows me to write for another month so that I can make enough money to pay for another month of internet access so that I can write for another month so that I can make enough money for another month of internet access so that I can write for another month so that I can pay for another month of internet access so that…
Hmm, that kind of sounds like a job. Surprisingly, I have been able to maintain my love for writing despite the fact that money is involved. Of course I wonder if money influences my writing in subtle, unseen ways. I sure hope not. And I wonder how a 7-figure advance on a yet-to-be-written novel would affect my writing. And would I still love writing?
Of course, writing for me is more than just something that I love to do. It is also a disease, an addiction. It is something that I have to do so I may as well love doing it. Dish washing is not an addiction.
Or is it? I wash dishes every day so that I can have clean plates and silverware and pots and pans to continue eating so that I can continue to wash dishes in order to continue eating so that I can continue washing dishes so that I can continue eating…
Maybe the lesson is in fact to do what you love. But do it as a spiritual practice rather than a means to an end. Do what you love without expectations and let the wealth and success fall where it may. Weighing down the things we love doing with expectations of success and wealth is putting the cart before the horse. Do what you love doing for no other reason than that you love doing it.