Alan Watts and career counseling
Everyone has heard a question as old as time itself in their formative years: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Everyone starts off with big dreams of being a princess, mermaid, artist, ballerina, veterinarian, equestrian, pro athlete, or what have you. Alan Watts seems to understand this concept and reflects on it in his speech “What if money was no object?” He states that he asks students this very same question, and that usually people respond with painters, poets, writers, but they feel there is no money in that. When delving deeper, some will say that they enjoy lives outdoors and with horses, which could lead to a riding school.
Upon first hearing this speech, it rings so strikingly true that as our education system and the ways our society shapes us that money is viewed as the most important. Predictable careers are sought after rather than making your passions into reality. Artists stifle their creativity, which brings to mind how much we have missed out on. What paintings have gone uncreated? What stories have gone untold? What poetry has only been whispered in the shadows of a poet’s mind, never to be revealed to the world?
He goes on to talk about how everything we find interesting, there are others with the same interests and that once we master the passions we truly stick with. Of course, money is an issue in society, as everything eventually costs some sort of fee which is why he goes on to say that once we have decided what we enjoy we can figure out a fee.
For myself, inspiration led to creating more in a variety of ways to explore what truly matters in my life. Digital art, candle making, photography, horseback riding, reading, writing, ballet, and many more activities have been tried and either integrated into valuable parts of my life or thanked for their lessons and released. After all, not every single thing we try will be what we enjoy and wish to turn into a passion we can also find a way to make some sort of fee from.
There are a variety of questions that can be asked to find the true root of what makes us happy and fulfills us. What lights you up? What do you desire? Is your current goal your own desire or someone else’s dream? What topics take up the most of your bookshelf? If you were assured you could not fail, what would you pursue? What are your top five passions? Is there something unique that you did as a child, that may have withered with time? Is what you’re doing today something you would repeat tomorrow?
These are all important and thought-provoking questions when considering how we wish to spend our time in this existence. After all, Alan says that “this is the real secret of life - to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” Why should each day not be spent at play? If we have such limited time, and the future is never guaranteed, and our past has already occurred and cannot be changed, why should we not play?