How committed are you? To your job? To your personal mission? To the things you must accomplish in this life? How committed are you really?
We’re told we should choose a career that we love so much we’d do it even if we didn’t get paid. That’s a pretty high level of commitment and passion right there. We all want to do something we love, something that has meaning for us. But what if what you loved required you to risk incarceration? Death? That necessitated carrying firearms just to get to the job? That still paid almost nothing, if anything at all? That was so outside the norm that you were the only one in the entire country doing it and you were blazing the trail with almost every action?
That’s pretty rough. Let’s up it a little: would you go into exile for your passion? Would you leave friends, family, and everything you knew behind to go be a second-class citizen in another country just so you could “follow your bliss”?
This weekend I watched the 2007 documentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad about Iraq’s first (only?) metal band Acrassicauda and saw a glimpse into what relentless obsession looks like. The movie is a fascinating look at Baghdad in 2005/06. It’s not about soldiers, politicians, ideologies, right, or wrong. It’s not even really about heavy metal. It’s about the struggle of a group of 20-somethings just trying to have a band and make some music against the backdrop of daily life in Baghdad. What would be a normal – mundane, even – activity for college-aged youth in the US becomes a hero’s quest where hopes and dreams wrestle against the hopelessness of daily violence and chaos. They suffer more for their dreams than I could ever go through here.
After watching, I came away wondering how I could up my passion to that level. How can I tap into the human need that’s fueling them to carry on? How can I bring the noise like they do? How can I play that big with the things that are important in my life? How much would I, could I, truly risk?
[This was originally posted July 30, 2012. I just watched the movie again last night and was affected even more strongly than the first time. It’s easy to talk about following my dreams when I am my own biggest roadblock and easy to complain about all my problems and setbacks when I don’t really have any. Time to play bigger.]