I’ve written before about my love of the obituaries for career inspiration, and a recent obit in the Post reminded me of why I love to read these.
A famous Manga comic artist passed away last week. I don’t know much about Manga, but the opener to this obit grabbed me right away. Keiji Nakazawa survived an atomic bomb. He was six, standing outside of his Hiroshima school, when the U.S. dropped the bomb on his city. Somehow the school building shielded him.
He pursued a career in comic book art, sticking to themes such as boy adventures, samurai, and baseball. But in 1966 his mother died, and when he collected the ashes, he said he noticed that there was barely anything left of her, that usually there were pieces of bone, but the radiation had affected her down to her bones. He decided to focus his art on the bombings and their effects. His work was so moving that a group formed a nonprofit to translate his work into different languages.
What strikes me about this man is that he would never have become the artist he became without going to dark places, exploring a horrific event that he survived as a child, facing down who knows what demons.
It’s not a place people like to go. Who would? But there are things that haunt you. We have all seen enough now in this world to ask ourselves what sticks to us, what can’t we let go of? What do we have to do something about? A lot of times I see people who are frustrated because they are stuck trying to figure out their career direction. If only they had a passion, something they loved to do. They feel guilty that they don’t.
It’s fine to ask yourself what you love, what your passion is. But if you come up empty, it might be worth asking what haunts you? What do you detest more than anything? Maybe your passion isn’t a sunny, happy place. And that’s okay too. In fact, it’s more than okay, it’s admirable.