With Passion or Not at All

Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some truly, incredibly passionate people who are so driven and invested in what they’re doing that I can’t help but be fascinated. This is exactly why I started writing, why I stayed in karate, still compete, got married, and continue to push myself towards whatever it is the main goal of life is (I’ll get back to you on that. Y’know, once I figure it out).

It is always a blessing to be in the presence of and share thoughts, stories, and sometimes a few beers with these individuals. Often I leave the conversations with my mind abuzz with possibilities — ideas, hopes, and dreams that I sometimes forget are a part of who I am. Usually, I leave these conversations with the desire to create. Either through writing, competing, or training, I am struck with the indescribable urge to be a better person.

Immediately.

The unfortunate side effect of circumstance and time means that by the time I get to a place where I am actually able to take advantage of these passionate bursts of energy, it is usually incredibly late, and I have just driven a lot. Nothing tends to drain out creative frisson like watching yellow lines stretch away in the dark for over an hour.

Driving I-94
Stay…motivated…stay…motivated

But it does bring to the surface the other side of these questions and feelings. Underneath the excitement and joy, past the motivation and hopes, however transcendental they may be, there is an underlying question.

Am I passionate like they are?

It’s the desire of everyone to not emulate others. We all want to be individuals and work towards the best possible (and most unique) version of ourselves. But there have been so many moments in my life where I step back and wonder if those passionate souls who light the fires of creation in me have ever woken up and just not felt like it. Or if they have ever had a bad day, made mistakes, messed up, and generally not delivered the sterling oratory/experience that I just had the pleasure of partaking in.

I would sure like to think so.

And the realist in me knows this is true. But it is so easy to hold up a mirror and be critical — to compare to someone you admire and wonder if you stack up. Usually, I remind myself we’re all on our own journey and use the experience as a reminder to throw myself totally and utterly into whatever it is I’m doing.

This has varying levels of efficacy.

 

Broken glass with a butter knife
It was a wedding. I got into the whole “hit the glass” thing. 

 

But, it IS a good reminder. And it DOES help me to see other people living and working with passion, because it’s just so gosh-darn inspiring. And who doesn’t need a little inspiration every now and again.

Many years ago, while I was working as a student teacher in a small district in Northern WI, I wrote a manifesto of sorts. In it, I stated my desire to live in a certain way, after all, I was finishing my college career and had hopes and dreams that were sky high.

I promised to live deliberately. To take hold of the moments in my life and try to suck the marrow from them. I pledged to attempt to move through the world not without fault or issue, but with grace. With the ability to work with people and situations to the best of my ability. To leave everything a little better than I found it and every life I touched a little happier. I wrote about taking advantage of opportunities as they come and try my very best to live each day with passion.

It was the first thing I saw every day when I got out of bed for years, and it’s still there. Silently reminding me who I wanted to be, and the promises I made to become that person.

Because life has an unerring ability to make the glorious, mundane. And the exciting, commonplace. It’s easy to slip into a circle of expectation and result that slowly loses it’s flavor until all the world seems a gray, boring, tasteless existence.

So when I stumble across the people who streak into the room like a meteor, lighting everyone around them up and driving the force of life into our brains, it makes me think about those promises, about what I wrote a handful of years ago and how it sometimes seems like a whole other lifetime.

Do I compare?

I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter. But remembering to be present, to enjoy what I do, and to share that joy each and every day with every person that walks into my life.

That’s the key.

So, to all those incredible, passionate human beings that have wandered through my life over the past 29 years, thank you. You’ve made me a better person by your very presence.

Just wait, I’ll return the favor someday.

 

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