I’m going to try not to get too heavy here, but this is something that has been on my mind for a while now and I think some people may need to hear it. When I was younger (a teenager) I had a strong healthy soul. I pursued things with a passion. Starting at the age of twelve, I wanted to be a photographer. I begged and pleaded with my parents to get me a real camera (I had been obsessed with taking pictures since about 5 years old when they gave me a little disc camera). I saved every penny I had just to get my film processed and would send it off to one of those companies that would send you a free roll of film if you let them process your prints. I took my camera everywhere and shot everything. My soul was alive! I could feel it. It moved inside of me.
A few years later, I discovered the guitar. I had played sax for a few years before this, but the guitar moved me. It took me to another place when I played it. The guitar brought me close to others. It helped me make friends and we spoke to each other with music. I found that I loved to entertain people. When people enjoyed my music, it made me feel good inside. I pursued music with passion. Again, my soul was alive and strong. It rocked hard and with a funky rhythm! This lead to the love of sound. Textures, sonic spaces, layers, effects. I loved it all, I wanted to be able to make music sound amazing. I ended up going to school and getting a degree in audio engineering. This took me to New York City where I worked in some of the worlds greatest recording studios making award winning albums for Internationally known artists. My soul was on fire! I was doing what I was passionate about and was getting paid.
One day, I was offered a job for a company that wanted to stream live concerts over the Internet. They needed someone with an audio background, but since this was a startup this person would also need to maintain the company’s network of computers and servers. Here’s the kicker… the money was GREAT! I would need to trade only a small portion of my soul for this job. It’s just a little part, though… so it’s OK. I would still be doing audio, so the majority of my soul would be in tact. Soon, I was in full swing of the corporate life. I was still doing the concerts in the summer, but the majority of my day was learning more and more about administering servers and networks, helping the sales staff, and fixing the database. I’m so busy that I don’t even notice that I haven’t been in a studio for over a year. I haven’t created ANYTHING in a long time. My soul was hungry, but I was too caught up in the corporate lifestyle and my new tax bracket to notice.
The more I learned about computers I realized that I was good at working with computers and technology. In fact, I was really good! So good that I was sought out by a very big employer in town, a bank, that wanted me to work for them. The salary was DOUBLE what I was making and the benefits were off the chain. I accepted the job, again giving a slightly larger chunk of my soul. It wasn’t my whole soul, because it was a great time of learning and experimenting. There was an aspect of creativity in this role, but mostly due to the fact that I was learning a lot. The part of my soul that I still had was being fed, for the time being at least. However, as time went on and as I learned all I could learn at this particular job, my soul again got hungry. I needed more. I started to feel a bit like a crack addict. I substituted passion for learning. Learning is a wonderful thing, but it is not passion. It’s very easy to confuse the two. Passion is self fueling, learning is not. Passion will continue to drive you, the thrill of learning dies when you have learned all you can learn on a subject.
My soul now started to ache. There was no longer any creativity in my job, my passions were put on a shelf. The only thing that moved my soul was learning. I had to move to a more cutting edge company just to be able to learn more, to experiment more, to challenge myself. I did just that. I took a job at one of the biggest most cutting edge technology companies on the planet. I took a senior roll and was involved in creating and supporting many very cool projects. To get this job, I gave up all but a sliver of my soul, but it seemed worth it. After all… it was very exciting times at this company. Everything was new. It seemed like I had passion for this new position. In hindsight, the “high” from all the learning at this company just made it seem like passion, but it wasn’t.
When I ran out of learning opportunities, when the “high” wore off, I began to feel lower than I had ever felt. I thought it was just the state of the industry, this company, or something. “It couldn’t be me”, I would tell myself. Reality is, my soul was all but gone. I traded it for the temporary. It was starving inside of me and I was so far removed from true passion that I didn’t even know how to fix the problem. Going into work made me physically ill. I am the provider for my family… I have to go into work. I was trapped. I felt dead inside.
Then one day… when I was having some quiet time with God and was being very still, I felt it. It was my soul. It was so small and weak, that it seemed barely there, but I felt it. It was in this time of desperation that I started trying to remember when I last felt really passionate about anything. Memories started to slowly creep into my mind… Memories of riding my bike all the way downtown just to be able to take a picture of the reflection from a glass building. Sitting on my rooftop for hours waiting for just the right light to get a sunset image. I thought about jam sessions in my garage that lasted 5 or 6 hours at a time with friends with no other agenda than to make music. I heard my soul begin to scream out at me, wanting more and more. Those memories and ideas began a flood inside of me. It was a nourishing flood that my soul soaked up like a sponge. I knew that I had to change directions and go back to being the person God created me to be. I am a “creative”. I am a photographer. I am a musician. THAT is who God made me to be. I made a 180 degree turn. I left the IT world completely. I’m back to where I began, working for myself as a creative. It’s a difficult road, but I had to do it before I became just a shell of a man and a waste of what God has planned for me.
I’m writing this for two reasons. One, I needed to write it for me. Two, I know there is someone out there with only a sliver of their soul left and it’s hungry. Don’t lose what’s left. Find your passion and feed your soul before it’s too late. It doesn’t have to be a career thing, but if you put your passion(s) on a shelf for whatever reason (too old, not enough time, pride, career, etc), get it back off that shelf and start living how God designed you to live. With passion! I can tell you that in time, your soul will grow back to it’s full and healthy size. You WILL feel it inside you again. It will fuel you like a fire if you feed it.
If you’ve read all the way to this part, thank you for indulging me!