"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."
Disclaimer: Before you go on to read this post, and possibly get some mistaken ideas about what I feel about my professional life, I should make one thing clear: I am presently productively employed. I am quite happy with my job, and the meaningful interactions and numerous opportunities for self-development that I encounter everyday in the course of my work. (Of course, if you happen to be a Marxist, you will probably say that I am suffering from false consciousness, but hey, this is a yoga blog! As such, this is no place to engage in Marxist debates about the nature of work in capitalist society.)
Now that we have gotten this out of the way, I would like to tell you a little story. A couple of months ago, I was having a conversation with a friend (let's call him H). The topic turned to the question of what we would really want to do with our lives if money, putting food on the table and all that jazz were not an issue. Without too much hesitation, I said that it would be really nice if somebody could pay me, say, a hundred thousand dollars a year just to do yoga everyday (and maybe also blog about it).
Fast forward a couple of months later. Yesterday, I met H again, and this topic came up again. Here's how the conversation went (roughly):
H: "Oh, I remember what your dream job was, the last time we spoke: Don't you want to open a yoga studio and teach yoga, and make, like, a million bucks doing it?"
Nobel: "No, you misunderstand... I want to just do yoga and get paid, say, a hundred thousand dollars doing it. If this can happen (I don't know how this is going to happen, but this is not the issue), I'll be very happy."
H: "Oh, so maybe you want to make this super-yoga-video that will go viral on the internet, and maybe go around the world, give a whole bunch of yoga talks, and make a lot of money?"
Nobel: "No..." [Thinks to himself: "Why don't you get it, H? Opening yoga studios and teaching and making viral yoga videos and giving yoga talks, while wonderful in themselves, are still WORK! What I really want is to just do yoga, not have to work at all, and still make a lot of money! Is this really so hard to understand?"]
Can you tell that there is a certain disconnect between what I was trying to express, and what H was thinking I was trying to express? And really, I don't think we can blame H for not understanding what I was trying to get across. After all, in our contemporary capitalistic society, the predominant paradigm is: "You don't work, you don't eat." How can such a society have any place for bums (yes, even closet bums who masquerade as respectable working people) who only want to do yoga and get paid?
But well, there you have it: Now you know what I not-so-secretly want with my life. When I first started practicing yoga, I really looked up to all these celebrity teachers flying all over the world teaching big classes and having hordes of adoring followers, I mean, students, and I thought: Wow! Wouldn't it be so nice to be like one of these teachers? But over the years, through my interactions with a few of these teachers, and through listening and observing things around them, I have come to realize that being a celebrity teacher is actually a lot of work. I mean, how would you like being in one time zone today, and being in another one tomorrow, and still being expected to give your adoring students everything that they perceive you to be? This can't be easy work, can it?
But this realization did not change my love of yoga, and everything that it has done for me. So right now, what I not-so-secretly want (it's not secret anymore, because you are now reading this, and are thereby complicit in my desire; ha! now you are in on my, ahem, "secret" :-)) is to just be a yoga bum, practice to my heart's content, and still get paid a Sh%*load of money!
Well, if you think all this sounds hopelessly naive, it is! But unless you, uh, have been living under a rock somewhere over the last few years, you won't need me to tell you about the failures of capitalism in allocating human resources. In our present far-from-ideal capitalistic system, many of us have "real" jobs which we are more or less happy with; but we also have dream vocations. Now ideally, if resource-allocation in the capitalistic system were perfect, most peoples' "real" jobs would also be their dream vocation. Why? Because in an ideal capitalistic system, the invisible hand of the free market would work in such a way as to ensure that somebody who genuinely wants to do something in his or her life and has a passion for it will produce something that is of value to others; others will then pay for whatever it is that this person produces, and this person will then be able to make a decent living doing whatever it is that he or she is passionate about.
But of course, we know that things mostly do not work in this ideal way at present (indeed, when was the last time it mostly worked this way?). Because of this, most of us are unwilling to part with our "real" jobs in pursuit of our dream vocations because we perceive, rightly or wrongly, that we may not be able to put food on the table and pay our bills if we do so. Indeed, as imperfect as the system might be in so many ways, it is very successful in at least one area: Indoctrination/socialization. Most of us (including, I think, my friend H) have being socialized to believe that there is NO respectable way of being in this world that does not involve making a lot of money by selling something that the masses want at this very moment in time.
Of course, I also know that there are some fortunate people out there for whom their "real" jobs also happen to be their dream vocations. Well, I congratulate you on your good fortune. But this post is written primarily with lesser mortals like me in mind...
Or maybe I'm the only person who thinks this way... After all, I suppose one might say that if I were a good yogi, I should trust that the universe would provide me with all the abundance that I seek, and I should therefore go forth boldly and do whatever it is that my heart desires. And so and so forth. Well, maybe I'm not a good yogi, in this way...
Wow, that was a lot of ranting over not very much. Well, if you made it so far, thank you so much for reading this post :-)