Passion or Money: That is the Question

Nov 23 , 2019
By Tsion Fisseha

The first day I learned about poetry was in the third grade. My English teacher (also my only friend at that moment) told us to turn our pages and read about poetry. I was immediately captivated by the very idea of words rhyming and making sense. I had never been this excited about something that was taught in class, so I had no choice but to believe that this, this assembly of words in a meticulous way, was what I had to do for the rest of my life.

After that I went through a series of career path selections, ranging from engineering to law and later on to political science and at the very end journalism, but ended up studying economics. With every passing selection I felt that squirmy little poet fading away from my peripheral vision. Instead, excuses and explanations as to why I could not just follow my passion followed me for years and are still following me.

And now three jobs and three different fields later I ask myself, “When did money become more powerful than peace of mind?”

In the book "Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy," author Douglas Adams writes “This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”

And as much as one would like to believe that passion is much more fulfilling than the coins we get here and there, almost every problem or crisis could be traced back to lack of or abundance of this thing we call "money".

Almost every aspect points its fingers toward the wealth and prestige used for extravaganzas or to scraps of cash here and there that bring just enough food to help one survive but not quite enough to make one say one is truly living.

Political rivalries usually do not arise from pure detesting of one another. They do not hinder our logic through the pure desire to assert dominance over one another. These desires to sit on the throne do not arise from one’s mere affection toward chairs. They all want what the other has: enough money, enough benefits and enough prosperity for themselves and their people.

To counteract the old adage that "money does not buy you happiness," Groucho Marx jokingly once rejoined, “While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.”

On the other end of the spectrum people from different backgrounds and different beliefs of the afterlife argue that the money that we have worked for our entire lives does not leave this earth with us once the inevitable death comes and takes us away. They argue that living now the best way we can by following our heart’s desire makes everyday less painful.

And still others believe there can be a middle ground - a way one could follow one’s passion without selling his or her soul to the devil.

Looking back, sometimes I feel like I should have followed my heart, and other times I appreciate all the paths I have taken that got me to where I am now. Who can know for sure which course is the right path?

PUBLISHED ON Nov 23,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1021]

Tsion Fisseha is a writer and head of foreign languages in the news department at a local TV station. She has been a part of a pan African poetry slam competition representing Ethiopia and is a member of a rock band entitled the Green Manalishi. She can be reached at

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