“Money makes the world go round.”
That sentiment once came out of the mouth of my then 13-year-old son, Harold. To which his sister Ophelia sensitively replied, “That’s love, you idiot. Not money.”
It made me smile. It also made me ponder.
What is it, indeed, that makes the world go round?
I was raised to believe that we do what we love. My parents never attempted to coerce me into a particular career, just for the sake of job security. Granted, everyone needs their teeth cleaned, their taxes filed. People’s hair keeps growing. Which means there will always be dental hygienists, CPAs and barbers.
But no one in my family stressed practicality. I still consider “practical” a dirty word.
When the time came for me to head to college, it was simple: I was going to an art college. Art was my passion, and my mother supported me 110 percent – an act of faith for which I still remain awed and thankful (especially when I think of some of the things that I was creating for her tuition dollars during that four-year period).
People seem to be raised with a “passion” consciousness, or a “practicality” consciousness. As I’ve matured, I’ve come to see that following one’s passions requires bravery. And I believe you are quite fortunate if your passion happens to also be something practical – such as waste management. Or making pencils.
Granted, my passion mentality hasn’t always served me well. I’m constantly compelled to follow my heart in matters of business and find it hard to understand the minds of people for whom money is the motivation.
Years ago, when we had tiny babies, my sister-in-law said to me, “I just need to come up with some invention that will make me rich.”
And inside my head, I thought, “Huh?” It was like encountering an alien.
That was when I knew I was, perhaps, not normal. And apparently missing the money-making gene.
My underlying motivation is never money; it’s fear of regret. It’s not wanting to be on my death bed, kicking myself for not having had the balls to follow my passions. Now that my “Irreverent Widow” book is complete (keep your eyes peeled for its release in a few months) and I’ve launched my Girl Scout Dropout endeavor here in Portland, I know I’ll have no regrets. And my dreams to entertain, uplift and connect people come true for me now every day.
Of course, the issue is that although those of us who follow our passions end up with no regrets, it can also take quite some time to see those passions convert to legal tender.
Last week, I was at a local coffee shop, and as often happens since I started writing this column, I had the privilege of readers stopping to compliment me on my ramblings. It fills me with gratitude – I never dreamed of such fame and fortune. Well, the fame at least. As I left the coffee shop with my (also widowed) girlfriend after hours of conversation and laughter, a man came bounding out into the parking lot and said, “Excuse me – aren’t you the woman who writes the column? My wife and I love it!”
It was another lovely moment of validation.
My friend was impressed. I assured her there was no need to be, since I was just doing what I love and not making much money at it, to boot. I mean, I love The Forecaster, but it’s not like they’re paying my mortgage.
Being a brilliant woman, the aforementioned friend suggested I carry around a donation bucket, like the Salvation Army. And every time someone stops to compliment me, I should suggest they ante up. So I can afford to keep making them smile.
I thought perhaps all of us who follow our hearts and not our pocketbooks should adopt this practice. Unless your passion is something that already makes you big bucks.
Because I’m not throwing $5 into the bucket of the financial guru I’ll hopefully need someday to figure out what to do with all of the money in my own bucket.
No Sugar Added is Cape Elizabeth resident Sandi Amorello’s biweekly take on life, love, death, dating and single parenting. Get more of Sandi at irreverentwidow.com or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.