Excellence Over Mediocrity III | Why Are We So Tired?

| “I remember days full of restlessness and fury.
I remember nights that were drunk on dreams.
I remember someone who hungered for the glory.
I remember her, but it seems she’s gone.
Where’s the girl? Where’s the girl with that blaze in her eyes?
Where’s that girl with the gaze of surprise?
Now and then I still dream she’s beside me.
Where’s the girl who could turn on the edge of a knife?
Where’s the girl who was burning for life?
Where’s the girl so alive and still aching for more?
We had dreams that were worth dying for.” |

| “Where’s the Girl?” from The Scarlet Pimpernel The Musical |

 

A little over two weeks ago, I spent a lovely yet frigid Saturday afternoon reconnecting with a Kindred Spirit. Our conversations kept coming back to one word: passion. What does it mean to have passion? To be passionate? To live with passion? To inspire others to live with passion? We chatted about how there’s a lot of apathy going around and precious little fire for the things in Life that really matter. Everyone seems to be living for the Mundane, for the here and now, as if that was what was really important.

In Grad School, my favourite professor pointed out that when strangers are introduced to one another, they invariably ask “so, what do you do?”. When we ask that, we don’t mean “what do you do in your free time?” or “what do you do that really gets you excited and energized?”. We mean “what’s your job?” or “what do you do for a living?”. My professor rather astutely surmised that we ask that question, not really because we’re interested in the answer for its own sake, but because we want to know how much respect we’re supposed to allot to that individual. In a world where your job determines your status, we’re always sizing one another up based on the amount of dollar signs and zeros attached to their name. Your identity is your job.

How pathetic. We’re asking the wrong questions, lovely humans. At the end of the day, the one who dies with the most toys and accolades isn’t going to Heaven. What we did for a living won’t matter when we’re standing before our Maker on Judgment Day. What will matter is HOW we lived: were we bringing glory to Him or were we shaking our fist in His face?

A friend of mine recently moved out-of-state and discovered an interesting phenomenon. In their new state, when you ask someone “what do you do?”, the person responds with what many would consider a “hobby”.

So you meet a guy and you say “so, what do you do?”.

He responds, “I’m a painter.”

You smile a little and probe a bit further. “So that’s what you do for a living? Neat.”

He laughs at you, without condescension, and shakes his head. “No, I work in pharmaceutical sales but painting is my passion.”

I find that fascinating and refreshing! In my friend’s new home-state, people have made the conscious effort to answer the dreaded “what do you do” question with honesty. If you love painting, why are you hiding that passion? Why would you not share the thing that’s closest to your heart? Why would you settle for the same mediocre speech which laces the air around you instead of reaching for excellence? Speaking that way is mediocrity, you know. It’s putting up the same facade everyone else erects and wearing the same mask everyone else wears. You are not your job. You are not even your passion. You are an Image-Bearer of your Creator and Saviour. He placed a passion within you for a reason because He is not a God of confusion. He doesn’t just give us desires (we have to be careful because not everything we “desire” is from Him….) and then leave us to fend for ourselves.

So don’t be afraid to tell people the truth. If you’re a writer, say that. If you’re a mom, say that. If you’re a photographer, say that. If you’re a singer, say that. If you’re a runner, say that. If you’re an entrepreneur, say that too. Don’t tell people what they want to hear or what you think they want to hear out of a sense of fear and insecurity or even apathy. The Most High has NOT given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).  We have the mind of Adonai (1 Corinthians 2:16) because His Spirit dwells within us and we have nothing and no one to be afraid of. On the other hand, if you are indeed a pharmaceutical sales representative, lawyer, VP of marketing, doctor, nurse, administrative assistant, dance instructor, teacher, accountant, social worker, etc etc etc etc and you love it and that’s your passion; then say that too. Tell the truth, lovely humans. That’s part of striving for excellence in a world of mediocrity.

Now, I titled the post “Why Are We So Tired?” and I’d like to spend the last bit of the article tying that in to what I’ve previously said.

My family and I have rather frequent discussions about the break-neck-speed pace of life here in Northern New Jersey. We often bemoan the fact that getting together with friends or even enjoying time to ourselves is like a mom hiding in the bathroom with a piece of dark chocolate while her kids are screaming and banging on the door. Something is always clamouring for our attention, even while we’re trying to breathe and take a moment to re-calibrate our burnt-out systems. I talked about this in more depth in my post on “Hygge | Slowing Down In A Busy World” so I won’t go into any more detail than that and you can follow the link to read more 🙂

Given our hamster-wheel-esque life, it’s no surprise that we and our fellow humans are caffeinating ourselves all over the place (a whole other topic in and of itself, which, Lord-willing, I want to write about later 🙈) and “hoping for the best”, as the trendy T-shirt saying goes. We’re running on barely enough sleep to properly function and then wonder why we have such trouble accomplishing tasks. I’m preaching to myself here because last night I went to bed after 1am…for no good reason…

So while there’s a rather glaring answer to the “why are we so tired?” question (we’re not getting enough sleep and we’re drinking too much coffee), there’s also another, perhaps not-so-glaring answer: we’re not doing enough of what sparks Life within our souls. First and foremost, we’re not spending daily, concentrated time with the Most High (which is a GIANT post coming later, Lord-willing) and so we’re grumbly, irritable, dry, and apathetic. But second, and what I want to focus on right now, we’re not engaging in our “hobbies” or the things that actually kindle a Fire in our souls. We’re not fanning the flames and a lot of the time, we’re not even lighting the match. (cue Tabby taking her fire metaphor wayyy too far haha)

Much of the time, we legitimately don’t have time to devote to our passions. If you’re a mom or dad, kids require your full attention. You have to survive in this world so working a job is a necessity (and the Most High has called us to work in whatever ways we can). Taking care of your home and car(s) both financially and physically are a must. So I get it. I get that we can’t always devote as much time as we would like to our passions, whatever they are. But I firmly believe we should devote some time to them on a fairly regular basis. Not daily or even weekly, if your season of life doesn’t allow for that. But we need to keep our Fire alive and not let this cold, cold world blow it out. It’s going to take creativity and a bit of finagling but it’s doable.

Sometimes it’s your soul, that’s tired; not your body. So read a few chapters or a few pages before bed-time. Paint a little bit at a time on that canvas. Chip away at your favourite knitting/crocheting project. Write in a journal a little bit each day if you can’t carve out enough time for a full-blown writing project. Drop everything and take your heavy-duty camera outside to catch the tail-end of that glorious sunset. You may not have time to photograph weddings and engagements but you can still keep that talent for capturing moments alive and kicking. Sing to your kids while you’re putting them to sleep because while you may not be signed to a record label, the King gave you a smashing voice to use for His glory wherever you are.

My dad likes to reference a quotation from The Waltons which really captures what I’m trying to get across. One of the characters is married and helps her husband run the store in town. She’s always quoting Shakespeare and she carries herself as if she were the star of her own play. For most of the show, she comes off as irritating and pretentious but there’s a lovely episode where you get to see her heart. In counseling one of the Walton children who’s struggling to deal with a dashed dream, she says “even if I can’t have my whole dream, I can at least have a piece of it”. That’s why she quotes Shakespeare and sweeps from room to room as if she were wearing an evening gown. She always wanted to be an actor but her life didn’t play out quite like she expected (pun fully intended…). Instead of moping and griping, or worse, giving in to apathy, she clung to what bits of her passion remained, not caring what others thought.

That quotation always makes me sad but in a happy sort of way. Those are the words of someone who hasn’t lost their passion even though their life circumstances are not “ideal” enough for them to fully express their interests.

So if you’re feeling tired and worn out, stop and ask yourself, when was the last time you did that thing that brings you Joy and makes you come alive? Get your Fire back, lovely humans. This life is about oh so much more than paying bills, working a cushy job, going to college, getting married, raising a family, and then suffering along until retirement. For your own sake and for the sake of those around you, please thrive; don’t just survive.

passion

| We’re in a War, my friends, and we all need Courage on the Front Lines ❤ |

 

 

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