How many times have you asked something of someone who should be offering you a gold-plated service and been met with a vague shrug of the shoulders – a gesture which under some circumstances means they don’t know but here would mean they just don’t give a toss? I’ve heard people say throughout my lifetime that people just don’t care any more, they’re more selfish, they want to go off and do their things and don’t take pride in a job well done.
More specifically, it’s often said of we Brits that we inherently lack the customer service culture so readily apparent in the USA, which may go some way towards explaining why so many waiters in our restaurants come from assorted corners of the globe, who, by and large, offer a warm friendly smile, polite and knowledgeable service, and at least a vestige of a hint that the customer might be the most important person in the room – and generally earn their tips in the process.
So why should people be apathetic? Quite possibly because they aren’t doing what they want to do, but then very few people are doing what truly satisfies and fulfils them, and being paid for the privilege. Many lads these days would sooner be professional footballers rather than the train drivers they might once have sought to become, but if they end up having to clean loos or whatever the task happens to be, in order to make ends meet, should their pride not make them try just as hard?
Which brings me to the second concept in this blog: passion. If apathy is at one end of the spectrum, true passion is at the opposite end. People usually associate passion with romantic love, though it is equally applicable to any activity that truly holds your interest. When you’re motivated by whatever end, you will move mountains to get there, whatever that might take – as my dad used to tell me. Some people can’t refuse a challenge, and I tend to be among them – some of the acting roles I’ve taken have with the benefit of hindsight been plain stupid, but to achieve them at my perfectionist best I became a totally driven person. And when you apply a touch of passion to something, anything, providing you have at least a modicum of skill or talent at the activity, it will stand out a mile, in all you say and do.
I’m also passionate about writing – I hope it shows. And cooking and food – people laugh when I get passionate about ingredients and spend hours perfecting a dish that is eaten in 10 minutes, but if you’re truly passionate the endless attention to detail becomes a joy and a pleasure, not a chore. And relationships, rare as hen’s teeth though they sometimes feel, work best if you throw your all into them! I’d like to think everything I choose to do I do to the best of my ability and with a passion, though of course it’s not true. Am I motivated by work? Sometimes, but not always. There have been days when it’s a feat of endurance to last out til home time, and I’ve driven back thinking “what the hell am I doing there?” There are things more important than money, and if finding peace of mind and fulfilment depends on following your passion and seeking that which you care most about, it could be a prize worthy of the hassle of changing your life.
Lots of people go through the motions and endure their working day, adopt a professional persona and just get on with it, clenching teeth if necessary. It’s impossible to keep your levels of passion high 24 x 7 – sometimes it’s just a chore and you have to grin and bear it. The job pays the bills, though sometimes you wonder why you do some of the other things that life demands. Some are unavoidable, and often they will be things in which you have no confidence or ability. For me, decorating always filled me with dread because I was afraid of screwing it up, and while at one time I would have had a bash, these days I would sooner entrust the job to someone who knows what they are doing. After all, passion without skill can lead to chaos!!
For me, being apathetic is the worst of all worlds – it makes you miserable and makes all around you miserable. If you’re not enthusiastic about something, change it. Do what feels right, what you enjoy doing. Why put up with feeling lousy about something if you can do something else instead? Partly we do lack the imagination to see beyond our immediate world – the feeling that we are like hamsters on a wheel: we can only do what we know and can only know that which we do. Worse still, we lack the courage to do what is possible. How many people do you meet who have for whatever reason lost the self-belief and never seem to rediscover themselves?
A great shame, though some people do radically change their lives to follow the heart. Not necessarily a case of financial necessity, but if you really wanted it you would find a way – almost anything is possible. You just have to decide what will motivate you.