Published: Jan 19, 2017 12:00:00 PM


Modernity is no place to situate my life’s true passions. I either need to be living in a super-future where food is materialized from a machine that requires no maintenance and medical aid is freely available, or I need to fool a society of 21st century people into permitting I live this incompatible passion.

As a human, I’m a bright light mounted atop meat with feet. My self-awareness is too intelligent for my own atomic reaction.

I’ll explain: I don’t confess this like a man faces his future’s totally unknowable destinations, recoiling into the unchanging past, wishing to stay there, as a younger person, or a child once more. No, I confess, lonely, that my present day existence is incompatible with instinctive passions.

I say this is lonely confession because to know one’s instinctive passion and act upon it is terribly selfish. It means you might rather make windchimes than work in accounting, and that you’ve become “woke,” to use the langua franca. Executing on instinctive passion is one of the final identity walls an individual breaks through. Perhaps that passion is your business, self-employed or otherwise. Perhaps that passion is music, above all else. Perhaps it’s your spouse, your family, your woodworking, your workout, your dog, or the car engine you’re rebuilding, at last getting some use out of all those socket wrenches.

The friction of cranking machinery into place feels good, even when you can't always explain why. That’s passion.

  1. But passion is frequently one of two things:
    Stumbled into later in life, either when there’s more time, or when there are fewer demands upon you
  2. Never formally confessed, recognized, achieved, or known, out of fear, or incompatibility

I've read a lot about work-life balance. Some describe work-life balance as making sure you can tuck in your kids at night before getting back to your email inbox from 7 to 9 pm. Others describe work-life balance as making money off the unerring self-motivation that cannot be decoupled from instinctive passion.

My instinctive passion begins in my mind’s nothingness and ends with inventing and telling stories. It's selfish. It doesn't pave roads. It doesn't grow corn or oats. It doesn't make bombs and it doesn’t send America’s enemies cowering.

This instinct is incompatible with modernity because in six thousand years, humanity has not leveled a civilization that prioritizes individual pursuit of happiness, only select individuals’ pursuit of continued dominance through civil liberty denial of you and I.

Passion is a risk in the 21st century. While the dispassionate achieve impact through sniper-fire between the gaps in their jade tortoise shells, the passionate must breathe fresh air to be understood, and what is understood is vulnerable. It's such a risk, many dare not even think of it, let alone pursue it, engage it, manifest it, in all of its selfish incompatibility with what the world NEEDS.

I want to make up and tell stories. I want to continue to exist. I need money to exist. I want you all to give me money to tell a lot of stories that I make up.

You might say that isn’t work. Why? Because I'd enjoy it. Because I don't consider it work. If I don’t consider it work, and you trust me because you can see the passion I put into it, then I'm not working, and if I'm not working, then I don’t deserve to get paid, dude. We still fetishize an equation between labor and suffering with worth. I, like George Costanza, have pretended to agonize over work to make others believe I'm suffering for the craft, thus upping the work’s perceived value.

How is this still our system?

This is the system: pharaohs in badly-tailored suits and ties hoard treasure in towers like tasteless, apathetic, gutless dragons, begging scientists for the billionth time to discover that gold cures death. Father time is undefeated, ladies and gentlemen. Why are you investing your money into expendable currency when self-worth is time’s greatest sauce?

Orson Welles once said, "There's no trick to making a lot of money if all you want to do is make a lot of money." Orson Welles was a genius. Orson Welles was an artist. What're you?

I'll explain further: if given the right to exist, I can tell you a story that will convince the world’s population they are pursuing a false vision of the future. What is that worth? It's worth everything. It's a landscape where the farmers can all farm, and the birds can all fly, and the sailors can all sail, and passion is no longer a lonely, incompatible thing.

-- Alex Crumb
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