There was an ad running on television a couple of years ago that always caused me to stop and watch it. It featured forty years of photos with narration that goes, “This is Paul. He’s been a Quarryman, Beatle, Wing, poet, painter, father, frontman, producer, business mogul and if that weren’t enough, a knight. The key is, never stop doing what you love.”

In many ways, that seems truly radical. We all know that Doing What You Love is not a course offered by many schools. But the notion that love is the key to discovering multiple parts of ourselves is one really far out message.

There was a time, of course, when it was assumed that a person could be many different things. During the period known as the Renaissance, when the creative spirit was in full bloom, it was not unusual for an individual to be a poet, businessowner, artist, soldier, linguist and lover.

Although such thinking fell out of fashion (and with it came less creative thinking), all sorts of people have told me they always suspected they were in possession of a Renaissance soul. I believe we all are and that feeding that soul is an exercise in love.

Love Me Do

Love and work sounds like an impossible combination to many people, but it’s the starting point of all great (and many small) undertakings.

“The real purpose of work,” says Claude Whitmyer, founder of the Center for Good Work, “is to give us an opportunity to practice being human—to discover everything we are and all that we can be, both as individuals and as members of a community.”

Getting Better

It’s not unusual for me to receive  messages from frustrated people who feel stuck because they don’t know what It is for them. Nothing they’ve tried seems to satisfy.

The passport out of this discouraging state is to step back and give serious thought to purpose. To never stop doing what you love, you have to start doing what you love.

Yup, those same puzzling questions that philosophers have discussed for centuries still matter.

One of the best explanations of purposeful vocation comes from Patricia Ryan-Madson. She wrote, “It is possible to seek and find work that consistently supports some purpose of mine. For example, my purpose may be to make the world a more beautiful place. To that end, I may choose any number of jobs that focus my time and talents on creating  aesthetic environments.

“I can serve that purpose, not only when I work as a graphic designer, but also in the way I set the breakfast table for my children. I can serve that purpose by picking up trash in the park or in my neighborhood. I may serve that purpose as well when I refrain from rough language or gossip.

“So the answer to the question of purpose precedes and informs all that follows in the search for my true work.”

Here, There and Everywhere

The aforementioned Paul knew from early on what his bigger intention was. He explains, “See, my trick in life is to get away from having a job. That’s been my guiding light.”

Not working for someone else may not be the only way to feed our Renaissance soul, but it’s the best way I’ve seen to develop multiple talents.

At the same time all the recent emails of frustration were rolling in, I was also deluged with messages from numerous new entrepreneurs who had a different story to tell. The common thread in each of their accounts was that their business was teaching them new skills or opening them to things they’d been avoiding.

One woman said she was finding herself in leadership roles for the first time in her life. Another is doing her first media interviews. Over and over, they told me about discovering the unmapped territory inside themselves.

“When you work ,” goes the well-known passage from Kahlil Gibran, “you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. To love life through labor is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret. All work is empty save when there  is love, for work is love made visible.”

Every Wednesday my suburban newspaper shows up in my mailbox. I always look forward to reading it since the editorial staff seems to think that the most fascinating folks in our community also happen to be joyfully jobless. 

This week there’s a story about a woman who decided to turn her parents’ home into an art and music center, rather than renting or selling the house. There’s another about a man who became an artist at the age of 68. His creations are built out of pieces of wood attached together to tell a story. One is called Out of the Box and represents his lifelong desire to work out of the box as an artist. His works, which sell for $250-$1000, are currently being exhibited at a local gallery.

The front page of the Summerlin View is dominated by a story about Jordan Kelley, 22, and Lawrence Vaughan, 24, who started a free Internet job search Web site called Under the large color photograph of the smiling pair is a story of how they saw a need and set about filling it. But it’s the sidebar quote that got my attention.”We like to innovate and create. We didn’t want to be in a cubicle,” said cofounder Kelley.

In the introduction to Making a Living Without a Job, I said, “I became an entrepreneur because I was curious about what I could become. It was a curiosity not shared by any employer I ever had.” Not surprisingly, I’m also curious about why others have chosen this lifestyle. Here are a few reasons that others have given.

I really love to go places and see new things. Even opening the door to a new hotel room has a feeling of anticipation. I just love it. I could spend my life arriving each evening in a new city. ~ Bill Bryson, travel writer

To me the desire to create and have control over your own life was very much part of the human spirit. What I did not fully realize was that work could open the doors to my heart. ~ Anita Roddick, Body Shop founder

See,my trick in life is to get away from having a job. That’s been my guiding light. ~ Paul McCartney, musician

I get excited about small businesses that are run with passion so that’s what  I recommend in my guidebooks. ~ Rick Steves, travel teacher

I wanted to make my store something a corporate mind would never dream up and that a large company could never sustain. ~ Collette Morgan, Wild Rumpus Books

I became an entrepreneur when I discovered there was not barbed wire surrounding my cubicle! ~ Pat Blocker, Peaceful Paws dog training

But for those who think that an eternal escape from work would be paradise, don’t forget that we all need a playground, and your own company is one of the best playgrounds of all. ~ Derek Sivers, musician and serial entrepreneur

I come from a long line of people who run little businesses to support their art.~ Sophia Coppola, entrepreneur and film director

I became an entrepreneur because I didn’t want to be beige. ~ Maureen Thomson, Memorable Ceremonies

Seems to me that many folks choose the Joyfully Jobless Journey because of a vision of a more congenial life. Along the way, they discover rewards they hadn’t even anticipated. What about you?