Saturday, July 3, 2010

Again I Might be Wrong

My favorite personal motto: "Again I might be wrong." 

An ex-personal motto I have gotten wrong: "Follow your dreams and it will all work out."

A characteristic that is not sufficient for sustainability, joy, or fulfillment but one of which I value above many others: Passion.

A presentation that exemplifies all my breakthrough realizations on these matters: Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs (see video below). 

I listened to a sermon by Tim Keller awhile ago on how God has designed humans to work, to create, as an imitation of Himself as Creator. Jobs and work have to do with creation, making, forming, separation no matter the occupation; a teacher brining students' potential out, a medical professional bringing order to a body that is falling apart, an artist making a painting, a hairstylist creating a beautiful look out of chaos... We are sub-creators (as J.R.R. Tolkein names it), and Keller goes as far to say that we need that as a part of satisfaction in life. 

This mesage had been on my mind continually since then, seeing as how the everlooming real world is approaching as well as the questions of "What will you do after you graduate?" I want to do something I am passionate about, and I'll admit, a job that is socially accepted as meaningful. If I were to become a landscaper or a sheep castrator many people would question why in the world I spent all that money on a USC education for such a simple or dirty job. But in God's eyes (and in the anthropologists' minds theoretically), any task can be a fulfillment of God's intention for work, and thus the societal worth given to a job is void because all jobs are essentially equally satisfying the intention. Of course some jobs require more education to fulfill sucessfully, some pay more, some put more lives at stake, obviously not all jobs are equal. However, who are we to say that the man who puts the buttons on a cell phone in an assembly line is working a less important job that the man who invented those buttons? It doesn't seem logical, but then again it is matter of questioning cultural upbrining. What if instead of praising and glorifying actors in Hollywood we had the same fervor for great plumbers? Afterall, a plumbers work is much more practical and personally affective than the man who says lines behind a camera for our entertainment. Look in different cultures and you will find who jobs they value say a lot about their society, and sometimes it doesn't seem to make sense from an outsider's perspective. But does it make sense that we worship people whose job is pretending to be someone else? 

Fast forward to today, when I listened to a different sermon by the pastor of a church I attend in Arizona, Justin of Praxis. He added to my "ah-ha" with words on the often dissappointing nature of passion. Following your passion often results in unfinished projects, hoping from one pursuit to another, because passion itself is does not always endure through the hardship required to acheive a passion. I can see this in my own life with the simple example of my crafty ventures: beginning one necklace with fervor, then getting bored and starting a painting inspired by the of-the-moment angst, then when the painting isn't really turning out how I wanted I jump to re-sewing a dress to fit the change of season, but when I can't get my mom's antiquated sewing machine to work smoothly, I drop the idea and forget about it. Story of my life. Then apply this to my dream of being an anthropologist that works to better the lives of the poor. I learned from the Philippines it is not an easy thing to work for people. Oh sure I'm passionate about solving world hunger and getting every person alive the basic needs of life. But I lost a lot of passion last summer when I worked with Food for the Hungry, because it really, really wasn't fun sometimes. I didn't come home running around excited about living without running water, only eating fried food, or squeezing into public transportation every day. My passion was put to the test when I realized the poor will actually always exist, and to some extent, there isn't that much I personally can do about that. But then came my study abroad in Chile and boy was I passionate about becoming a Chilena! I wanted to only have Chilean friends, eat, talk, sleep, live just like a Chilean, and I was passionate about assimilating perfectly. But then it turns out, assimilating isn't really all that fun all the time, living far away from home and familiarity brings out the worst in you, and Chileans speak really, really fast. So my passion again faded. 

You need a lot more than passion to live a satisfied life. I can honestly say I don't really have passion for serving the poor anymore. I am not passionate about leaving all things North American behind and adopting a Chilean citizenship. It's different with becoming Chilean because that honestly is just rather naive of me, but with serving the poor, I am not just going to accept that I don't love, love, love it and forget about it. I just have a different attitude towards it. 

To sum up all this divergent information, take a look at this TED talk video of Mke Rowe himself doing a much better job at describing what I am trying to say:

My new attitude towards my future occupation: I will work wherever God calls me and do it to its fullest, even when the passion fades or is absent, because that is actually just the most satisfying way to live. 


  1. Ahhh KK. I love this post. I have been thinking along these same lines and getting kind of depressed about it. I had all these romantic notions about tropical life but I am learning that it's different and sometimes in bad ways. They fry everything here too. And I don't love cooked bananas. I had romantic notions about saving babies - but it's a lot of dirty diapers and really sad situations. I was telling one of my roommates the other day that I get so depressed by going to my internship because I am pouring out all this energy and it's just a drop in the bucket. And she said,"and the bucket has a hole in it." Passion gets drained easily that way. I think you're so right that passion cannot sustain working for others. It's definitely not as romantic but I think some of the most heroic things ever done were for duty not passion.

    Then, I just wonder if I get homesick for North America in a normal way or in a materialist comfort seeking way. I really liked your bravery in stating your truth. I'm relieved to see that somebody else feels it too. Either way I love you, Chilean or gringa - whatever you are today. :)

  2. Well stated, Katie. You again have a wonderful way reflecting what is going on in your heart, what you see with your eyes, and what your mind interprets and put them in simple words to begin to express this beautiful human intersection transparantly. Well done, little girl. I enjoy your writings. It helps us all work through the decisions and experiences of life. JBK.

  3. mike rowe is a boss... you are his boss.

  4. Did I mention how much I love you?