Do It For The Joy

“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.

Philly Run - Rocky - PGIf 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.

Mural on the side of the former Blue Horizon on North Broad Street, Philadelphia.

Mural on the side of the former Blue Horizon on North Broad Street, Philadelphia.

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About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
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18 Responses to Do It For The Joy

  1. LB says:

    What an incredible experience, Jim!
    and your “test” to determine who loves their vocation or avocation got me to thinking ….

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  2. Sophie33 says:

    A fun post, dear Jim! Your writing is exciting too! 🙂

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  3. Coach Brian says:

    Great post. Your writing is very inspirational. I also have a passion for running and I love watching others achieve their goals. It’s taken me awhile to figure it all out but I think I am heading in the direction of doing something with running. Be it coaching, or blogging or whatever. I want to inspire others to achieve their goals. Thank your for your inspiration.

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    • Jim Brennan says:

      Thanks, Brian. Comments like yours makes it all worthwhile. There are many ways to share inspiration with running, like volunteering with groups like Back on My Feet, a running program for people living in shelters, helping out with a youth track team, or simply sharing your expertise and setting an example. Certainly sharing your inspirational message through blogging or other mediums are effective ways as well.

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  4. runner500 says:

    It sounds like a great experience – I am very jealous! While I have never been an extra I have wandered around the edges of several film sets – the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich (London not New York) is frequently used as a set and is also part of one of my regular running routes. I usually don’t stop but did pause for one of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and the second Sherlock Holmes film a few years ago. The professionalism and passion of everyone from Robert Downey Jnr to people doing catering and looking after horses was amazing.

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    • Jim Brennan says:

      It is a wonderful experience and would recommend it to anyone who gets the opportunity. It is interesting to watch the director, actors and crew interact, their commitment to their art and professionalism, and you learn a lot about how a story is created on film. I know that I will look at movies much differently from now on.

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  5. Jim,
    That sounds like an awesome experience. They shoot a few movies in the Boston area and sometimes they put a call out for extras. Usually the auditions are while I’m at work.
    My passion is running and my running business. Running and my business are what I think about almost all the time. Not my day job.
    Hoping to make a go of this.
    Andy

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    • Jim Brennan says:

      Some of my favorite movies were shot in Boston, Good Will Hunting (my favorite,) Mystic River, The Departed, actually I could go on and on. It is quite obvious that running is your passion, Andy. I always liked your work. Continued good luck to you, and run well, my friend.

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  6. aaronwest says:

    You’ve written a lot of great and inspirational posts, but I think this one might be my favorite. It is about the passion. As you know, I have a few different passions and I enjoy both the activity itself and the writing afterwards. Things like cycling, movies, and other interests do occupy my thoughts during idle moments and are my version of joy. Everyone has their own outlet that consumes them, and I think you have to in order to truly find joy in life.

    I was a Stephen King reader as a child and wouldn’t recommend him to someone like you, but his On Writing book really is in a class of it’s own. My wife is an English professor and she also loves the book, yet she has never read a King novel in her life and never will. Another good lesson from that book is “a good writer is a good editor,” which is something I’ve learned through the years.

    He may not be your genre, but if you’re looking for some light reading that isn’t of that genre, you might try 11/22/63. It was the first King I read in decades after recommendations from friends, and was surprised by how good it was.

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    • Jim Brennan says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Aaron. You definitely live your passion, and you really opened my eyes with your foreign film blog. I mean, really, I began following you as a cyclist, got completely engaged with your injury and rehab, and then find kind of inadvertently that you are a foreign film connoisseur. Thanks for sharing the bit about your English professor wife. I loved On Writing enough to give 11/22/63 a try. Thanks for the recommendation. Be well.

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      • aaronwest says:

        Thanks, although to be fair to myself, it isn’t ONLY foreign films, but that’s what I seem to have been watching lately. There are a lot of American and English films, although many of them are older.

        Really looking forward to Creed now. Hope you have some pictures and stories to tell when the movie comes out. My guess is you are probably under confidentiality agreement now.

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        • Jim Brennan says:

          I stand corrected. I have seen your English film reviews and enjoy them as well. You are correct about the confidentiality agreement, so no pictures on the set though I have plenty of the Philly sites that Rocky frequents. I’ve climbed the Art Museum steps for decades (but I don’t dance at the top with arms extended in victory, that’s a sure sign of a tourist.)

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          • aaronwest says:

            Those steps are probably a huge tourist attraction, but I wouldn’t dance at the top either. The only time we’ve been to Philly was a layover through the airport. Will have to get over there someday.

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            • Jim Brennan says:

              You would love Philly. And if you run the Art Museum steps don’t stop there, visit the Museum. It’s a blast.

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              • aaronwest says:

                No worries there. We always stop in the museums wherever we go. We’re thinking of making a trip to Chicago just to see the Art Institute. The Art Museum in Philly will be our top attraction and not because of Rocky.

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                • Jim Brennan says:

                  Get a picture of you and your wife in front of the Rocky statue at the bottom right side of the Art Museum steps. The stature once stood outside the Spectrum (no longer there.) And try to stay a second day to see the Barnes Museum. It is a treasure. I spent a day in the Chicago Institute of Art with a couple friends of mine, and then went to Legends, Buddy Guy’s club. There is no end of things to do in Chicago.

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