Putting Your Passion to Work
We leisurely stroll through life and think, “I know what passion is.” Your initial memory of passion may be your very first girlfriend…in second grade. The next: maybe a trading card collection or bag of marbles. Passion can be a fickle and fleeting thing. One day you’re excited, animated and motivated. The next, you trip over that damn soapbox and kick it aside.
No, real passion is something different. Nothing you can lay your hands on, but never the less, more real.
Let us look at history. Can you imagine Leonardo di Vinci painting the “Mona Lisa”, without passion? Martin Luther King, certainly he was a man of deep conviction and passion, as was every other civil rights activist of the time. Or how about the ecologist, the one fighting for the very health and survival of all things, organic or otherwise, are they of a passionate nature, as well?
Passion is not always for the greater good. War for example, is there really passion in the act of committing to the slaughter of countless soldiers and innocent civilians? And those very soldiers, marching lock step into battle…where do their passions lie? As we can see, passion can be for good or for evil. Most of today’s life-saving medical procedures were created with a passion to save lives. Some of the most heinous atrocities committed by mankind, upon mankind, were from the deepest-seated passions.
What in our make up as human beings, gives us this innate ability to not only survive, but do so with gusto?! PASSION! How do we identify it? What are the markers and once you recognize it, how do you proceed?
Passion is recognized by most, as a strong feeling of enthusiasm for something. It can also be an intense feeling of romantic or sexual desire for someone. Wow, could we be any more vague? This definition allows us to run the gamut of human experience.
Passion is as individual as your own fingerprints. Something uniquely personalized and wholly you. The amazing wonder and power of passion is: it can be shared and spread by all!
Mankind has been tossing around a particular, esoteric word for centuries. Using it as cavalierly as you would any other word. However, this provocative word comes with something more attached to it…personal power. The word?: intuition. It is that innate ability to understand something from a feeling, rather than conscious reasoning. Some call it a hunch, others a gut feeling. No matter how you choose to define this word, you cannot deny its influence. Some will refute its very existence, claiming it is not based on the scientific method. Cops, psychics and mothers have used this instinctive nature since time immemorial. Believe it, practice it, and use it. Passion depends on it.
Passion can give life a feeling of purpose and continued hope. Your every breath being dedicated to the one thing that brings your focus to a fire-hot pinpoint. When you wake in the morning and are dressing for work, you no longer feel that nagging dread of another day wasting your life away. For you know the meaning of passion.
I would like to share a true story with you. Earlier this year, in Oakland, California, a nursing home was callously shut down without consideration of the residents. So much so, the administrators and nurses forgot sixteen elderly patients were still in habitation, with nowhere to go. The janitor and a cook from the facility were so taken aback by the sudden departure of support staff, that they took it upon themselves to care for the panicked at-risk population, some of which were suffering the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. For three solid days, these two charitable gentlemen administered medications, served meals, cleaned soiled garments and put the residents to bed. The men were not compensated for this duty, nor were they consulted as to their own personal wishes. They heeded the call of something deep inside, something greater than monetary recompense or accolades of public approval. Together, they agreed to help those caught in a nightmare of red tape. Finally, after three sleepless days and nights of selfless care and concern, the fire and sheriff’s departments took responsibility of the elderly residents.
From where did this generosity and concern spring? What was the point in the conversation, when these two men mutually knew their course of action? Was it even verbal?
Could this be passion, too?
There must be a point, in all our lives, when we stand for what we feel is right and just.
It may be the boss that has been badgering you, or the bullies on the playground delighting in making a disabled kids life even more miserable. Have you ever been witness to one of these inequities? Or have you been the brunt of one person’s personal torment?
The feelings inside you well up, like a balloon with too much air, until finally…BOOM! You explode in a torrent of uncontrolled emotions, none of which you have power over. The resulting aftermath is nothing you could have predicted. A cathartic release has left you feeling spent, even frightened. That my fellow traveler; is the very raw, very real, unadulterated essence of passion.
First, let us identify what gives rise to your passion. You might want to actually sit down and make a list. Look at this list with a critical eye of discernment. Ask yourself some tough questions and give the honest answers. No need being dishonest with the one person who really knows. Be ready for some hot tears, as well. Delving into the “inner you,” deeply enough to find passion, can release some hidden emotions you never realized had been couched.
With time, you will learn passion is more of a visceral journey, than a singular emotion. Okay, say you have found what feeds the fire in your belly, now what? Where do you go from here? Two words: baby steps. Anything taken to extremes is not going to support your better self. Jumping into a new interest, especially with emotional blinders on, can lead to heartache and disappointment.
Research…research…RESEARCH! Have I made my point? Building a good knowledge foundation is key for any new endeavor. If it is political, look into the facts, on BOTH sides of the platform. This can give you a perspective of unbiased observation. From this station, you have an understanding of the issues of opposing factions and can come from intelligent integrity, when commenting.
Perhaps you are positioning for a new and innovative medical procedure or treatment, which is quite controversial. Take off the rose-colored glasses and burn some midnight oil. If it is truly something worthwhile and you feel would make the world a better place, fill your head with facts and figures. Your opposition loves nothing more than to emotionally bait a situation, and knock your feet out from under you. This is where your hours and hours of research pay off. Calmly and coolly stating your position and backing it with irrefutable evidence, is the core to winning any argument. Once you have found this place, and your footing, passion comes into play in a BIG way.
There is nothing more satisfying than being challenged by someone who blindly believes in his or her viewpoint, than to counter that position with a heart-felt argument, based on facts and reason. The final triumph is to have them see your point of view, not necessarily bringing them to your camp, but possibly agreeing on the talking points and parting with mutual respect for one another. No hard feelings and no bruised egos. This type of discourse is thrilling, yet beware the ecstasy of conquest, as passion can cut both ways.That is still a person on the other side of the adversarial isle. They have feelings, aspirations and yes…passion. Tempered with a course of civility, passion is useful and manageable. Allowed to run unchecked; global warming, genocide and mass extinction of thousands of species can be the net result of passion gone awry.
Now that you have identified passion and realize its power and benefits, how are you going to apply it to your everyday life?
Begin by listening to your inner voice, that gut feeling we discussed earlier. Not the voice that echoes, “I want”, but the one that asks you to step outside your safe zone, to possibly be of service to others. Embarking on the adventure of community service or volunteerism is one that, until you experience the grime and grit of helping others, you will never know the thrill. Living life through your own eyes and personal experiences is a path on which you can build passion.
Do you love to belt out ballads while driving in the car? Show tunes? If your voice is untested and you long to take to the boards, Community Theater might be your next passionate endeavor. We all can’t let our responsibilities fade in the rearview mirror as we motor to New York or Nashville, to make our big break. Working with others in our own community, to stage a production is not only the next best thing, it can be the VERY best thing…done with passion!
Is there a hobby you put on the back burner to work over time? Consider picking it back up and putting your all into it. Photography…painting…needlepoint…what hobby gives you butterflies in your stomach?
I have a friend that showed his interest in carpentry, on a very small scale. He was so adept with his hands, he settled on dollhouses. The dollhouses he produced became something more than just an occasional weekend project. He built miniature furniture, tapestries and even detailed the wallpaper. Close inspection and macro photography could discern no differences between his dollhouses and their full size counterparts. His passion was so great; dollhouse building became his full time vocation.
While most of us are not going to throw our entire lot into a pastime or hobby, we CAN express our passion for living in the everyday things we do.
So, the next time you are out taking that evening stroll and your sense of injustice is piqued by someone littering or your nose catches the faint whiff of freshly planed pine boards, you might ask yourself, “where do my real passions lie?”