currently playing on my laptop: Midway by the Bad Bad Hats
Okay everyone was all Follow your passion to a fruitful life! a while back. Now it’s Hey be careful because following that action may result in starving to death. Well, I don’t care to tell anyone to toss a nine to fiver in favor of writing that armadillo graphic novel you can’t stop dreaming about. But I will say this.
Listen to your passion. Or, if you aren’t sure what you’re passionate about, pay attention the things in life that get you curious. It can point you in the right direction for a hobby/second job/seasonal work that will bring joy to a lackluster career or give you a sense of completion or freedom that your day just cannot bring.
Since I was a child, I’ve been drawn to people from backgrounds that differed from my own. Not because my culture is bad in any way—I loved my childhood and love where I live—but because even more juicy tidbits are even better. Old stories. Holiday traditions. Ideas about what is and is not taboo. Special foods and everyday comfort meals. Ways to deal with crisis. The list goes on.
Now that I recognize that pull, that curiosity, that passion, I intentionally seek out chances to talk with/get to know individuals who grew up or live in other cultures.
This weekend I spoke to a friend of mine who grew up in Iran and she told me about the interesting relationship between traditional religion and mysticism in her hometown. Though the women in her area held to the traditional religion, they also “read” for each other, employing what I would deem psychic power to figure out who would marry whom and when and how many children they would have. This mysticism, while in some places would be taboo, was accepted alongside their religion. Fascinating.
My passion for culture stories like this lead to my desire to write young adult fantasy. Young adult because it allows me to send characters through those first big questions in adult life like Is this right? Who am I? How can I change this or protect that? Fantasy because I can tweak/blend/twist culture how I want to make it fresh and approachable to all. It is not my desire to promote any real culture in the real world, but to encourage readers to pay attention to culture stories for pure enjoyment, and perhaps, develop a warmer understanding that we are all so very different, but so very much the same.
If following your passion doesn’t jive with paying the bills or other responsibilities you hold high, I encourage you to at least stay in touch with what makes you curious. Even if I didn’t write, I would still seek out these stories from others for sparkling conversation, human connection, and simple joy.
Try it, and please share your own story if you feel so inclined!