Sometimes you don’t know why are you doing what you are doing. Or you don’t care if others will eventually see what you have been doing. Or you just want to do what you like, but not what you should.
Ever been in that situation? It has a name: I call it a labor of love.
And by this I mean something productive, like cooking, or knitting, or writing.
Doing that labor gives you endless energy. No, not because anyone will praise you. Nor because of money. But because of the process of doing itself, you gain energy by doing it. So you keep on doing it as it gives you more energy to do so. It feeds on itself. To borrow a word from Nassim Nicholas Taleb, you become ‘antifragile’. Anything that will occur outside of the doing (read: the outcome) will not impede the continuity of what you are doing. Quite the opposite, it will make you stronger and more resilient. It roots you even deeper.
To do something when no one cares is risky. People may think that you are crazy. People may ignore you. People may misunderstand and avoid you because of that. That’s true, we cannot control what others think about us. Judgment and comparison will occur. This is when the casual question “what’s your job?” may turn into an evaluation of how better am I as compared to you; and some people are proud to share what they do on Facebook or Twitter to show—therefore so people can perceive—how busy (and presumably successful) they are.
I have to admit that it feels nice to get a praise. You feel important. But a praise is a drawn sword that touches your neck. It is halfway there to kill you. You have to be very careful. Accept their compliment but don’t succumb in it. For what it kills is not the flesh but the purity of your intention, the virtue of your love. Once you receive a compliment, immediately ask yourself, “Am I doing this work because I want this compliment?”, “Is this what I want after all?”
When you speak even if no one is listening, when you do things even if no body is watching, you know that you are doing something that is more important than yourself. Something that you love more than you love yourself. This is because that thing is an expression of the soul. The soul is way bigger than our physical body, and much greater that our worldly ego.