Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 7 - Page 36

Finding Your Passion RETOUCH BY DAVID FINCH T he tricky thing about being married to a life coach is that you’re constantly faced with the burden of having to follow your passion. Some days I don’t want to feel accountable to my aspirations. Some days I just want to feel put-upon. difficult to strike this sort of balance. My brain doesn’t love to be half-in; I tend to favor an all-or-nothing approach, and it burns me every time. A few years ago, feeling trapped in a passionless career, I left work in the middle of the day to drive around aimlessly until it was time to go home. It was the middle of summer, and I couldn’t handle sitting indoors at a gray cubicle on such a glorious day. The meandering drive led me straight to my house, an hour away from the office, so I parked my car in the garage, grabbed a copy of Rolling Stone from my briefcase, and headed out to my uilt b s patio to read. ve It’s kind of hard to ignore this new populism insistent upon monetizing not only our time, our thoughts, and our efforts, but also our passions. “You can live the life you’re dreaming of,” Kristen reminds me whenever I’m grumpy about s e li having to go to n v i o l i s n s a The feature article work. “You just pa ng We c r i d u l o i profiled the band need to follow d u b n s i u , k o n Rush, chroniyour passion.” . ar t I thi s t r a a cling the career p Her advice is to l ard s h e e of one of my v h bang-on. She just t e li s o h favorite bands. t happens to offer it It seemed they’d started out up on the days when like most bands, in modest arrangements I don’t want to hear with humble gigs, their cars packed with equipit. What can I say? For ment as they drove from city to city. In time, the those of us who prefer band would release numerous hit albums and pity and consolation, the very idea of someone develop an enormous following. When record championing our better interests feels like a slap labels urged them to sound more commercial, in the face. they stood their ground and remained faithful What really burns me up, though, is that I know to their collective musical vision. (You always she’s right. We can live lives built around our know a Rush song when you hear it.) With a passions; the hard part, I think, is building those musical career that has spanned decades, they lives to last. Indeed, one of the great challenges have earned a fortune. And, best of all, their of building a rich, meaningful life is knowing time is completely their own. None of the three how to balance passion with responsibility. men in this band had a boss to answer to; they Owing perhaps to my Asperger’s, I often find it were free to simply create and perform and ex- 36 ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses , " " ; plore ideas. To me, that was the very definition of a rich and meaningful life — a life I desired more than anything. A few months later I found myself enrolled in a creative writing program, determined to become the literary darling of my generation. (How’s that for all-or-nothing?) Sure, I hadn’t ever studied writing, and except for the occasional article about Rush, I didn’t read at all and really had no concept of what books entailed. Plus, I still had a full-time job and a wife and two children depending on me for income and health insurance. But, you know, whatever — I could make it work. After publishing my first essay and stumbling into a generous book contract, I decided it was to time leave the engineering world and its gray cubicles to do the thing Kristen has always wanted me to do: pursue my passion. What she didn’t specify, however, was that one needn’t pursue one’s passion at all costs. An interesting thing happens to your creative energy when you decide, out of the blue, to stake an entire career on something you enjoy. Suddenly, that thing you cherish can become damned by expectations. This article better be a hit, we tell ourselves. This painting better make me a fortune. This cupcake store better start turning a profit. As soon as we relinquish a little bit of power to those thoughts, our articles don’t get written, our paintings don’t sell, and people everywhere agree to start hating cupcakes. When our relationship with creativity becomes an adversarial one, creativity forsakes us every time — and for good reason. I no longer enjoyed writing, and worse, I felt I had nothing left to say because I wanted to say it for $4 per word. People might pay a chef for his food, or an artist for his illustrations, but no one wants to pay a writer. That’s just how it goes. Leaving my job to write full-time had been a mistake, it seemed — despite the successful book, despite the articles and national speaking tours, despite the television offers from HBO, DreamWorks, Fox, and Warner Brothers. Today, with all that behind me, and happily on a deadline, I see now that my pursuit of a passion-filled life hadn’t been a mistake. I’d simply neglected to find the right balance that woul