When comedian Jim Carrey recently gave the commencement address at the Maharishi University of Management, he urged his audience not to be afraid to “ask the universe” for a career that they find interesting and enriching, not just a job that will pay the bills and keep food on the table. A portion of Carrey’s speech from youtube is available here.
Carrey’s speech is compelling, genuine, and, for a speaker of Carrey’s profession, surprisingly serious. Go to the comments section on Youtube, however, and you’ll find a considerable amount of backlash against the speech.
A good part of this criticism revolves around the assertion that pursuing one’s passion as a career is a luxury reserved for the relative few.These critics have a valid point. Anybody who has the opportunity to expand their horizons through higher education, or even has the ability to attain more than the most basic necessities of human survival, should consider themselves to be very fortunate; even today, most people aren’t that lucky. If you are blessed with the chance to build a career doing something that you love, be thankful and try to make the world a better place in the process.
The other common complaint about Carrey’s speech is that “asking the universe” is nothing more than wishful thinking. Clearly, wanting something to happen won’t make it so, but working towards it can. When it comes to asking the universe for something, actions speak far, far louder than words or positive thinking. Pursuing any significant goal requires significant time and effort, and there is no guarantee of success. Carrey’s point is that one should direct one’s time and effort towards something he or she finds fulfilling, even if it entails a greater degree of risk; “You can fail at what you don’t want,” Carrey said, “So you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.” Put another way, life doesn’t offer any guarantees, but the chance to do something you’re passionate about is something precious. Don’t waste it.