Monday, October 08, 2007

Do What You Love, The Rest Will Follow

Far too often I get caught up in the everyday grind of things. I get up before the crack of dawn to go to a job which serves very little purpose to me other than to pay the bills. I make a decent living at my day job, but it is a job, not a joy. I come home too tired and stressed out to do much more. I crave more time to do the things I love, like making candles and experimenting with other crafty projects. It has become engrained in my mind that I should take care of the responsibilities of life first, and play second. Candle making and crafty projects are play.

Or are they?

While away for a long weekend I met a man who, after a relatively short conversation, has literally changed the way I look at things. He works at the Grand Portage National Monument in Grand Portage, Minnesota on a seasonal basis. He is soft-spoken and an intense listener. He educated us on the practices of people hundreds of years ago, from the way gardens were planted to making birch bark canoes.

My husband and I marveled at the ingenuity of it all. We joked between ourselves about how important everything those people of ancient times did, and how it made our lives seem so meaningless. Stressing out over “the man.” Plodding through day after day at a job that seems to amount to very little. The tour guide then asked us what we did for our living. After we gave our titles, my husband added, “and Sara has a candle business on the side.”

That’s when the tour guide said three words that changed my whole perspective. He said, “that’s meaningful work.”

We found out this tour guide lives as simply as the lifestyle on which he was educating us. We learned further that he uses no electricity and illuminates his cabin with just two beeswax candles, which he acquires through trade with a beekeeper he knows.

The tour guide said simply enough, “if you love what you do, you don’t need anything else.”

Unlike the pressure we may feel to conform to society's materialistic values, my candle business exists to fill many other needs. It’s not about keeping up with the latest color trends or finding the scents that appeal to most people. It’s about doing something I love to do, bringing beauty people’s homes, arousing the senses, and in some cases, providing the bright light of a flame.

I may never quit my day job, but I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to Eric at the Grand Portage National Monument for gently reminding me there is more to making a living than earning money – there must also be meaning. And a life with meaning will always be a happy one.
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