“I started thinking about joy. Everything in our society is so purposeful. Let’s bring joy back to the experience.”
Finding Your Purpose
There has been a language shift over the past twenty years and that always means a cultural shift. Three words are common in everyday life and well as in entertainment. The three words are: dreams, passion and purpose.
In Avenue Q, our hero worries about finding his purpose after getting a B.A. in English. Every Disney Channel kid has a passion that must be realized. On Hallmark, our heroine has a dream of being (anything) a world-famous fashion designer and we wonder why every person in the show is not falling over to help her reach her dream.
Now and then, in the 1940s and 50s, we’d come across a book or movie called A Man And His Dream. It would usually be about someone like Henry Ford and the assembly line and a bunch of Model T cars. Always the story is about someone who really made it and probably would never have called it a dream himself. It simply makes for a good title.
Some years ago, my boss wanted me to design a concert at some theater. It didn’t sound very good, so I asked him why I’d do it. He said, “You are a lighting designer, it is your passion.”
That made me sit back. I thought about it for a few days. Was I passionate about lighting? I’d been doing it for over thirty years and was having a great time doing it. It would be easy to assume that this was a passion of mine.
I realized two things from this conversation.
One; I did the work that I did because I happen to be very good at it. Nothing more. Also, this same skill set could have also made me a wedding planner or an assistant to a Senator or many things; all which would have given satisfaction.
Two; my boss assumed that my passion would make me do his show. In other words, this passion would make me blind.
I don’t know when these three words began being used and popping up in this way. Typically I blame the media and characters like Barney the Dinosaur. But it is everywhere today; our children are encouraged to find their passion and follow their dream when they really need to find out what they are good at doing. I think. Maybe.
There was a running gag on the Hannah Montana show. It was about Miley becoming a star and the odds are one in a million. She says, “What if I am that one?” It is a good question and we feel that it is worth it to explore.
Miley Cyrus was a success story, one in a million. She got the job acting in Hannah Montana at the age of 13, when the part was written for 15. Amazing talent; but we can’t ignore that she came with a famous dad who would be on the show and a famous godmother, Dolly Parton, who agreed to guest. Maybe that made the producers look at her again.
It is strange today. When someone tells you that they have a passion to do something, it is implied that we should do everything to make that dream come true.
Dangerous stuff, if you ask me. It makes you blind.