I Love Words – Featured Writer: Irene Shih

I love words. I love the space between words, the cracks in a sentence. I love that a well-crafted story isn’t craft at all, but truth that keeps breathing long after a writer’s pen has left the page. Long after a speaker stops speaking.

By Irene Shih

http://whatshihsaid.com/2012/11/02/a-dream-deferred-never-not-at-all/

It’s impossible to do more than earn a comfortable living unless you also love what you do. Love sparks real creation. The absence of love evokes mimicry, at best. There’s a reason that our passion for what we do effortlessly inspires other people. It can’t be helped – we understand passion across any divide. The language of joy requires no translation.

I love words. I love the space between words, the cracks in a sentence. I love that a well-crafted story isn’t craft at all, but truth that keeps breathing long after a writer’s pen has left the page. Long after a speaker stops speaking. This moment is home, for me. Can you tell?

I respect art. I believe there is art in almost every industry, but that art only comes from individuals who feel an intrinsic joy for their work. When I encourage my friends to consider careers outside of science and engineering, outside law and finance, I am not devaluing these industries. Rather, I am valuing their happiness. I am valuing their capacity to Make Good Art.

Of course, that’s a heavy statement to make. I won’t deny that it contains value judgment. Passion over money. Joy over security. Who am I to decide which brings greater happiness? Who died and made me King of Your Autonomy?

I’m not really in a position to evaluate anyone’s life but my own. And believe me you, my life is an embarrassment of false starts and wrong turns. No one needs to defend their life or their choices to me. But I wish we would revisit our choices and defend them to ourselves. And, should we find our defense weak, I wish we would reconsider. Whether you do this or not comes at no immediate gain or loss to me, but I bet it will to you. And, in the aggregate, probably to our world.

Joy keeps us going. No commitment in life is ever easy. No experience in life ever matches our prediction. Only our unbridled, intrinsic joy for the work can keep us going, can allow us to create something new and invaluable in a world that desperately hates change. You can’t fight the good fight if you don’t put your foot down. You won’t put your foot down if you don’t truly care.

“It’s never too late to start something new.” Here’s my amendment to that platitude: It’s never too late to meet a new opportunity, but it is often too late to seize it. Following one’s dream is an ability. It’s a muscle waiting to be trained. The grand hope is that we can ignore this muscle through our youth and middle age, and come back to it in our twilight years. Yet, very few people who spend their lives deferring dreams wind up realizing any of them. The ones who in their old age pick up new tricks tend to be people who have always done something they loved – in ways big and small. Because they stretched that muscle, that agility stayed with them through old age. There is an implied relationship between us and our dreams. They request our attention. Our passions need to be considered, fed and fought for. In ways big or small, but never not at all. Otherwise they wilt and abandon us.

Rightfully.

By Irene Shih

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