“If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.” – Steven King
Steven King, the wildly successful author, is talking about writing when he talks about joy, but his observation leads to the question, “Why do you do whatever it is that you do?” Do you think about your vocation or avocation the first waking moment of each day, or when you are sitting in a traffic jam on the freeway? Do you get excited when you share your enthusiasm about why you run, write, woodwork, cook, sew, play a musical instrument, grow an organic garden, take photographs, build a house?
I lifted “If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever” from King’s book On Writing. I’ve never read a King novel. His stories are not my genre. The only reason I read On Writing is because it is a highly recommended book about writing and I am a writer. But once I read the book it became apparent why his novels have sold more than 100 million copies. The passion and enthusiasm he has for his craft oozes from every page. King, I believe, would write his stories for nothing. The sheer joy he gets from telling his stories and perfecting his craft is what drives him.
If you want to determine whether someone loves what they do, ask them the question and then watch for animation in their gestures, enthusiasm in their voice, a glimmer in their eyes. I witnessed such passion this past week casting as an extra in Creed, the new Rocky movie that will be released in November. It was my first time on a movie set and I was curious and excited, not for the meager wage or for stories to tell friends, but to experience the creation of a story on film. Instead I got a rare opportunity to witness the energy of a unique young director orchestrate actors, filming crew, writers and coordinators in performing their craft so joyfully and enthusiastically it was a truly transcendental and contagious experience.
It got me thinking about other vocations and avocations, in other words, Why you do what you do. Even something as simple and primal as running. How many runners make a living from their sport, yet how many do you see on the road and on the trails? If none of them are paid to labour and sweat, then they must possess passion for what they do. So many decades have passed since I began running that I can’t remember with 100% certainty why I ever started, but forty-plus years later I run for the pure joy of it, that sensation of perspiration dripping from every pore in my body, the freedom of the outdoors, the panting of my heartbeat, and the liberating feeling that stays with me long after I take my last step.
I run for the joy of running, and I write for the joy of writing.
Find your passion, that one thing that drives you, puts a glimmer in your eye. Even if it takes a lifetime, you will be glad when you find it.