“Do what you love – the rest follows,” it said. My brother’s 21st: everyone is in full medieval regalia. One of our coolest friends, already urbane and grown-up at the grand age of 23, throws a crumpled-up piece of paper to my brother. Smoothed out, it shows a man playing a saxophone, next to the words “Do what you love. The rest follows.”
The words hit me like a religious conversion. Of course my life was already full of writing – not writing would be like not breathing – but suddenly, here was authority, permission, validation, all at once. It’s hard to recapture the passionate conviction you feel at 19, but this video does:
This video’s been whirling around my Facebook friends, rekindling everyone’s passionate conviction. Yes, Alan Watts is talking to college graduates trying to choose their career. Yes, it is easier to feel passionate conviction when you’re barely scraping 20, unburnt in your ambitions, with no mortgage or family to provide for. And yes, it’s easy, when you’ve bruised your dreams up against the world a few times and taken financial responsibility for your life, to dismiss those stirring words as idealist. They are not idealist. They are not just for dreamers. They apply to real grown-ups. I realised that, because the friends passing that video around Facebook were not just dreamers, they were makers – they made their dreams happen, they pursue what they love.
The friend who loves helping people, listening to them, unpicking how they work – an educational psychologist. The friend who’s obsessed with macrophages and will spend an hour at a barbecue patiently translating his brain-baffling research into something we can grasp – has just become head of his own immunopathology lab. The friend who wanted to “draw houses for a living” when she grew up – an internationally renowned architect. The friend who’s passionate about plants – runs his own garden design business. The friend who loves red wine and travelling – has just launched his wine import and export business. The friend who just wants to draw crazy stuff – works as a design creative. And of course, because this is my friends list, the innumerable writers – who make their books happen and make their worlds come to life. All these people are proper grown-ups, doing proper jobs, which are properly what they love doing.
Watch the video again, share it, and do what you love.