Art + Function

I am a very passionate person. Ask anyone who knows me, and good chances are they’d say the same thing too. It’s something I’ve been proud to say I am for as long as I can remember.

Yet throughout this recent self-explorative journey, I have been attempting to take that inner ‘passion’ and figure out what I really want to be doing with myself. I guess I figured that since I’m such a passionate person, it would be easy to alight on my next productive path befitting such. But as you can expect, that has turned out to be a much harder question to answer than I anticipated.

For starters, I found that I don’t even really know what I am passionate about. I honestly don’t think I have ever known. My whole life, I’ve just been passionate about everything, and nothing at the same time. And as a result, I’ve been sort of good at everything, and really good at nothing in particular. I wanted to be everything, because I never knew (or tried to figure out) what one thing I actually wanted to be or be doing.

Instead, I have developed too wide a range of interests that attract my attention and energy. Even the job I just recently left was working in a field I could say I find interesting.

Each time my boss and I would sit down to brainstorm and strategize, I would get very passionate about each topic in discussion. Each initiative brought out the passion in me, whether about revolutionizing the K-12 education space, or developing engineering research at the university level, or addressing the organizational issues underlying our own management system… I became engrossed in each of them.

Then beyond my former work, there are even more areas that warrant my passion. As an Economics major in college, I fell in love with economic international development, particularly the challenges facing each corner and community within the massively diverse, corrupt and complicated continent of Africa.

After college, I found the subject of psychology more and more interesting (as will happen) as I began exploring my own mental and emotional hurdles. I felt a particular partiality for how the psychology of a professional group can shape its productivity, as I witnessed and tested first hand at my old job.

Beyond academics, I love being active and outdoors, lifting weights and working up a good sweat. And I feel no greater thrill than when I’m pushing my physical limits, and bringing out the fighter in me.

Then there’s the artist in me, who wants to capture the beauty I see in everything around me. Whatever the medium – be it a camera, pen and paper, etc – I revel in packaging the world’s wonders, virtues and vices for others to consciously consume.

Expanding on that, the writer in me is fascinated with words, and how the choice of them can change how a vision or opinion is received and understood. I am drawn to the challenge of capturing the true essence of a thing in seemingly too simple words, and then how both individuals and communities alike can be inspired and matured by their content.s

I love the way my art and writing have already inspired people, and am encouraged by the possibility to further touch the hearts and lives of others through such. It speaks to my love of storytelling, and the joy I get out of taking someone along on a journey with me.

But here comes the rub. Though all of these here foretold (and many more I’ve omitted) may be passions of mine, I am still uncertain of what next professional direction to take based on them. Naturally, I can’t pursue all of these at once, nor would I wish to. But to simply just pick one and run with it would be to miss the whole point of this exercise, and what I’m trying to accomplish at this juncture in my life. No, the goal now is rather to find where within my ‘passion’ I will feel the greatest reward for my work, and would like to contribute productively to the betterment of society.

So first things first: I need to start by identifying the core values common within each of these passions, and within my core self. And with the help of some very near and dear friends and family, I have finally taken to whittling this list down to two core elements that I truly feel must be at the center of whatever work I take on next.

In short, I must feel that what I am doing is artistic and creative, and also that it has a functional purpose in society. I do love art for art’s sake, but that alone would not give me the satisfaction of practical impact I am looking for. That said, I have also worked in many fields of functional value in the past, and felt they lacked a fundamental element of the arts that I need in my work.

So Art and Function it is – that’s what it comes down to for me.

Now how that manifests into a career is still beyond me. But armed with this new narrowed knowledge, I can continue my journey onward and upward with increased confidence that I will soon find the right next occupational adventure for me. I’ve only just begun, so it would be foolish to be discouraged by any lack of progress thus far, and far wiser to instead look to tomorrow with bright eyes.

So forward I will journey on, into the heart of me. And if you care to join, I’d be pleased to have you travel with me, and share in such experiences as the merging of Art + Function may forge.

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The No-Plan Plan

Forgive me Father, for I have gone astray. It has been three weeks since my last confession. The first was spent obsessing and stressing over my final week of work, and then the subsequent two weeks in even deeper anguish, as I stumbled painfully between bed and couch in a flu-induced zombie-like state.

But while this recent detour may not have been the most productive per se, it did at least give me the space to think. And think I did, as think was all I was able to do, with my less-than-able body.

So I thought about life, my life, and this crazy new lifestyle I am crazy enough to explore. I thought about how I’m going against everything comfortable and stable I ever knew or was taught to value. I thought about how I’ve always had every moment of my life planned out. I’m talking about having a one year, five year, and even ten year plan in mind at all times. At every turn, I always knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted it to get me in the future.

And now here I am, in such terrifyingly unfamiliar territory, and I find I no longer have those same plans handy. I honestly have no idea what I will want to be doing, or where I will want it to get me. And for the first time in my life, I’m actually really excited about that fact.

Oh sure, I do have a sort of ‘plan’. Many of you have heard it already. I’m going to simultaneously pursue two new career ventures in writing and stuntwork, but with more flexibility and autonomy, to allow me to fully explore my true passions!

You see, with such massive a change, I naturally had countless inquiries from friends, family, and former coworkers about where I’m going next. And I had to have some sort of answer. I couldn’t very well just say ‘You know, I have no idea, but I’m sure as hell going to have fun finding out!’ No, I had to tell them something. So I came up with a plan that at least sounds like I have an idea of what the hell I’m doing.

Don’t get me wrong, this plan is for real… or at least, as real as I’m capable of at this point. But no matter how nice and neat a plan I draw up, there’s no way I can definitively say right now what I’m going to discover on this new adventure, or where that’s going to end up taking me. All I can say for the time being is all I’ve realized so far, the passions I’ve identified to pursue right now, and then we’ll just have to see where it goes from there.

So that’s the plan I’m sticking to… which I guess isn’t really much of a plan at all. I’m stepping out into the wide unknown with nothing but a no-plan plan in my back pocket, and a fierce desire for adventure and understanding in my heart. Nothing more than that, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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