A few weeks ago I attended a local WordPress users group-meeting for the first time. Although my visit was brief, the experience has left a lasting impression on me. Only three individuals in their late 60s or early 70s were at the meeting, other than myself and the organiser. They were all busy working on their laptop, learning how to make webpages, using WordPress. All three learners were white British citizens. There is a reason for mentioning the colour/race of the individuals. My brief interaction with the group made me think about something very fundamental about life and why having a passion in life is vital.
When we think about learning, we immediately think of institutions like schools, colleges and universities. But these institutions are a modern phenomenon. When it comes to learning, human interaction is and always has been far more influential than institutions. We do not learn about life inside institutions. We learn the important lessons of life through interaction in social settings. We are by nature social beings and the purpose of socialising is communication and transfer of information. It is for this reason that a hermit’s lifestyle is deemed unnatural. It is not much of a living. Then what is a living, you may ask?
In life, we generally interact with two types of people; the givers and the takers. I am not talking in financial terms here. I am referring to something much more meaningful and deeper. By givers, I refer to those who have compassionate and selfless hearts. Their joy comes from gratitude, sharing and appreciating life. These people are always in search of someone who might benefit from their open-mindedness and the little knowledge that they have. The takers, on the other hand, feed off from others’ emotions while draining their energy. The takers habitually insist on their own superiority, and with their closed-mindedness, they regularly put others down.
Then there is the third type, the seekers; we tend to meet them in the starting phase of their journey towards growth. Such people are closer to the givers but lack the resources required, however, they are eager to gain the skills and knowledge they need to accomplish their goals. At times the seekers may drain the energy of others, in their pursuit to grow and achieve. Regardless, you find them to be of a benevolent type. The key point is that some people help your growth while others deplete your energy and halt your growth. Hence, our aim should be to persevere to be a giver.
Now, going back to the topic of three individuals in the group meeting, I find that some people after retirement tend to retire from life too. But, not these three individuals; they, I felt, had chosen a fresh path that leads towards a positive new life. Retirement did not diminish their passion for a meaningful life. A fresh start to a life was an easy option for them. The point I am trying to make is that as we learn and grow through life, our purpose may change direction; this is normal and nothing to fear. Be assured, our passion to do what we love will always allow our spirits to soar. As Rumi says, “let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.”
I admit that creativity is not easy, but then again how much room does a human mind need to grow. When you have a sense of purpose in life, you feel an inexorable force at your disposal and embracing creativity becomes easier. Not having a purpose in life can sometimes shorten life. In my opinion, it is the givers and creatives who live healthier, happier and longer lives. What I find encouraging is that there are billions of minds in the world with untapped potential for creativity. What matters most is being involved. We need to involve all those seven billion imaginative brains. We all benefit and learn more when everyone is involved creatively.
Our internal feedback loop demands a sense of involvement, productivity and accomplishment. We have an inbuilt analytical monitoring system within the human mind that is observing our return on investment, e.g. what returns we are gaining for the time we are investing in a certain activity. It rewards us with an appraisal or it harms our mental state when we spend too much of our time in a useless activity. To elaborate on this, I want to add that, in my view, the biggest culprit is social media such as Facebook. The more time we spend browsing Facebook, the less productive we are. For some, Facebook has become an addiction and has replaced book reading and learning real knowledge.
The reason I say Facebook is addictive is that just like gambling where the gambler makes small wins from time to time and keeps returning to gambling despite accumulating losses. The Facebook does offer quality information from time to time which keeps us hooked to it. However, most of the posts on Facebook are of poor quality. Facebook depletes not only our time and energy, it harms our inner self-image due to lack of return on investment. Anything that wastes our time and energy cannot be good for our wellbeing nor considered as something positive for life.
Thus, we must become creatives and help ourselves and others to grow. Our task is to continue our journey towards growth relentlessly; as we may never know who we are inspiring. I was inspired by the passion of three individuals trying to be creative after their retirement. As Restoring The Mind readers will know that it is creativity that helps us keep our brain and mind in good health. It is creativity that helps us restore the mind. Having a creative mind allows us to look for something positive in each day.
Despite all, I cannot help wondering if lack of passion for life is the reason for people in underdeveloped countries dying younger than those in the West. I am referring to those who after early retirements in a way retire from life. We may argue that they lack resources and role models. The question I am pondering over is, is the disparity there because some people prefer living a zombie’s life to a life of creativity? I am inclined to think that this could be one of the key factors if not the sole reason.
In my view, passion plays an important part in life. Passion gives a purpose to life. Life is meant to be lived. Hence every opportunity we get, we should take it to learn and experience life passionately. Then, with equal passion, share the goodness with others. With each new day comes new strength and new thoughts, so try every day to become the giver and help those who are struggling to grow.