So many great people we know became great for doing what they were passionate about. There were Einstein and universe, Gandhi and peace, Tolstoy and sufferings. They become the exceptions in a world full of automatons. In our deepest heart is the question that keeps tugging at us: why it is so hard to do the things we love?
You may blame this on modern society and its concerns with outputs, instead of the things people love doing. Most of the time we know that doing what we love rarely pay the bills. Letting go of our dreams and playing the system are easier than choosing what we love to do and constantly worry about the future. Having a nice house and car seems a fair exchange for our deepest dream. Yet, is this what we really want in life?
Human being works through meaning. We can’t push ourselves doing tasks that are meaningless to our existence. Most of the time the thing we love gives the biggest meaning in life, but doing what we love doesn’t necessarily make our lives better.
Dwelling in our dreams necessitates us to put ourselves out of the system and leave us on our own. It leaves us in cold fear of being denied a nice and comfortable life. People may mock us and tell us that we’ve made the wrong decision.
Doing what we love is hard not only because society doesn’t support it, but also for the innate torture of passion itself. We know that there will always be someone better than ourselves doing the same thing. A better artist, writer, musician, scientist, etcetera. It puts us in a place of vulnerability because we know where we are and how far we want to be. Just like how afraid I am writing this article because I know there are a lot better writers who can write the same piece, and how far my writing is from what I want it to be.
Living a passionate life is not easy, but only through it do we persevere. The long hours we spend to write a piece of writing – reading, exercising, and crumpling up that printout and tossing it into the waste bin at the corner of the room. The self-criticism we put even after our writing has already been published. The roller coaster of our self-esteem when we do the things we love.
Yet we keep on striving. Our perseverance is not just to convince ourselves, but also everyone who doubts it. We persevere by continuing to do the things that torture us with so many darkness and uncertainties.
I think this is all it takes to live a meaningful life: doing the things we love and facing the torture that lays within. To put ourselves in a place of vulnerability over and over again only to strive and persevere. It may take us to our lowest point, but it also shows how strong we are for doing the things we love though it hurts as hell. What an absurd life we live! Yet maybe this is just what it is and maybe only through suffering could we understand the true meaning of life.
Debbi R. Saragih is an undergraduate student majoring in psychology in University of Indonesia. She is currently doing her thesis on trauma and meaning in life.