Be What You Love: Finding Purpose in Art, Sport, and Life
"Let the beauty of what you love be what you do" - Rumi
We've all heard that old adage do what you love and the money will follow. Yeah, tell that to a starving artist or an amateur athlete. Doing what you love more often than not means eating Top Ramen, racking up debt, and riding the bus. The money does not necessarily follow and that is the truth. The reality is that for every star athlete, there are thousands of competitive ones who do so simply for the love of their sport and little else. For every famous artist, there are thousands of talented ones honing and perfecting their crafts and doing so for next to nothing. And because of such stresses and the challenges associated with pursuing one's passion, happiness does not necessarily follow either. So what is the point? Authenticity is the point. Beauty is the point. Sense of purpose is the point.
The world is truly impacted by those who live authentically. My grandfather used to talk about the local train conductor and the cop walking his beat in New York as the two most successful men he ever knew. And my grandfather happened to know lots of successful people. He felt these men were successful because they were present in their lives and living with a sense of purpose. They knew everyone’s name and treated their fellow man with respect. Furthermore, they went about their vocations with a sense of acceptance, grace, and humility. In short, they were comfortable in their own skin because they knew they were where they were supposed to be.
Each and every one of us has a purpose. That purpose only appears to us in having the courage to follow our convictions. In knowing thyself. The problem is this often involves the pain of looking at ourselves truthfully and having the willingness to follow our heart. In following that path we are promised only one thing - authenticity.
There is one simple litmus test to determine whether or not you are living authentically - are you living as a means to an end, or are you living as a means to truth? Dieting to lose weight is a means to an end, while eating the right things from a place of wholeness and nourishment is authentic. Creating art from a truthful place is authentic, while creating art for fame or profit is, frankly, just a ridiculous notion. One is better off buying lottery tickets as an investment. Participating in sport from a sense of joy and expression is authentic, while doing so simply to lose weight, win medals, or win favor is a fleeting and empty process. If you walk around with that pit in your stomach because something doesn't feel quite right, it's a good bet you're not living authentically. I should know. I've been there.
As a coach, I do not promise fun workouts, or my clients necessarily getting the body they have always wanted, because it is not always truthful. What I do promise is that if one is willing to do the work, they can achieve their authentic physical self. They can move with grace and beauty and have their own best body - the one that represents the real one they were given.
When clients ask me the very best exercises to do, I always respond to them, “The ones that you love.” Most golfers do not need to force themselves to golf. They do so out of a love of their sport. In basing their physicality in something they love, many golfers determine that a fit golfer is a better golfer. Therefore they are more likely to readily embrace exercise to compliment their lifestyle. Exercise is not always fun. In fact, it is often grueling. However, it is gratifying and authentic if it is based in and around something you love. Otherwise it's just a 'diet.'
For many of us the journey lies in finding what we love. Most of us are not born with copious talent in athleticism or artistry, so we must discover our purpose versus falling into it. This requires trial and error and the willingness to fail. It requires the ability to be present and listen to our minds and bodies. Many have lives that are far too jumbled with the busyness of the moment for this to occur. As John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans." It's in the small details of the moment where the answers present themselves, not in making plans.
Speaking of John Lennon, I read his biography not long ago. In the book, Lennon talked about the desire to be something other that what he was. "If I had the capability of being something other than what I am, I would...it's no fun being an artist. I'd rather be in the audience really, but I am not capable of it." When we have discovered what it is we truly love, we find out that ultimately there is no other way.
John Lennon could not be anything other than what he was. He wasn't promised an easy life or even fame and success. In fact, despite his success, his life was still difficult and tumultuous. What his life was, however, was truthful and authentic. In his art, he touched the lives of countless millions. Bob Marley had the same gift. One can simply look at a picture of Marley performing and see that expression of a real and lasting sense of purpose. If I am able to live even for a moment with that amount of passion, purpose, and truth, I know I will have lived for something. To live with true purpose and authenticity means to truly make our mark.
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