We want to be famous as a writer, as a poet, as a painter, as a politician, as a singer, or what you will. Why? Because we really don’t love what we are doing. If you loved to sing, or to paint, or to write poems, if you really loved it, you would not be concerned with whether you are famous or not.
Growing up in a pre-Internet age, I hadn’t ever even considered the possibility of fame. While my career aspirations ranged from cartoonist to architect, being famous was never a part of my future narrative. The rise of social media in recent years, however, has revealed an intense desire for validation in me and I’m not really sure it’s for the better. I yearn for “likes” as a means of confirming my existence. That can’t be good.
Here’s where I disagree, at least somewhat, with what spiritual leader Jiddu Krishnamurti posits in the quote above. Generally speaking, I do enjoy writing. This blog is nowhere near my primary source of income and it clearly hasn’t made me famous, yet it consumes so much of my time. If I didn’t love what I was doing here, I wouldn’t still be doing it.
We’ve been told repeatedly that we should do what we love and the money will follow, except that’s not true at all. The money, the fame, the success or any other measure of so-called “achievement” is hardly automatic. You have to work for it and you need to have a little bit of luck on your side. But sometimes we get so caught up in the potential pot of gold that we forget why we’re doing what we’re doing in the first place.
Do what you love. Do what you’re passionate about. Even if it makes you zero money and no one even knows you’re doing it, it’s still worth doing. You might concern yourself with fame and you might not. It doesn’t matter. If you really love doing it, as Jiddu Krishnamurti exclaims, you’ll keep doing it in fame’s absence. Because you want to make a thing.
To want to be famous is tawdry, trivial, stupid. It has no meaning. But because we don’t love what we are doing, we want to enrich ourselves with fame. Our present education is rotten because it teaches us to love success and not what we are doing. The result has become more important than the action.
But then I have to remind myself that the process is more important and more meaningful than what eventually comes out the other end. There will always be another project, another ambition, another thing to do. Another thing to make. And I extract great joy and purpose from the creation of that thing.
So do what you love because you love doing it. Nothing more, nothing less. Do it because it calls to you. Do it because you must. And just let all that other stuff melt away.
Jiddu Krishnamurti was born in India and raised to be a World Teacher. He rejected this path and pursued his own philosophical journey, emerging as a spiritual leader open to exploring all faiths, nationalities and belief systems. He passed away from pancreatic cancer in 1986. He was 90.