Passion has always moved me. Sure, I haven’t always known to call it that, but I have always been drawn to the outward expressions of people living passion driven lives. Whether it’s through something they produce or create, what they say, or what they do with their time, there is just something there that has always attracted my curiosity and my admiration.
As a child, I was enthralled by my grandfather’s dual life. He was a farmer, but he also had a television and appliance business. I didn’t understand what I was observing then, but I remember being shown around his store one steamy summer Illinois day. I remember feeling a very alive and excited energy in him as he talked about the features and benefits of the products on the floor. He was captivating! Thinking back on it now, what I responded to was pure joy, pride, and a genuine fascination and enthusiasm coming from not just his voice, but his whole demeanor. It was a real aliveness.
Then in high school there was the English teacher who, frankly, I was afraid of. Her reputation for high standards and relentlessly challenging students was well known in the halls. I thought she must be evil or have it out for students if what I’d heard was true. Over the course of my first semester with her, as I continued to work my tail off to meet her expectations I stopped thinking about the reputation. All of that fear was gone. I had entered into some unnamed space that she had created in the classroom and her class became something I looked forward to. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I know that at the root of her reputation was a force driven by passion. She was relentless and held high standards because in addition to her unquestionable love for her subject matter, she wholly believed in the capacity and potential that we all had for outstanding academic performance.
Now, as an adult, I continue to be moved by the ways that people discover, play with, cultivate, and ultimately live a passion driven life.
People close to me are doing it. My childhood friend who is now doing well funded scientific research on migratory song birds in California; the photographer I’m working with for our family portraits who is scaling back her nearly 20 year career in the corporate world to focus on building her creative business. There’s my friend and grad school classmate who bravely resigned her highly visible role in corporate finance to travel the world for a year. And then there’s my friend who leaped out of her day job into the startup world to create a non-profit athletic team to raise funds for local charities. Even our very own Coach Al and Doc Strecker show me every day that Pursuit Athletic Performance is great not because of what they know or their credentials, but their energy and authentic passion for deep and real excellence. Amazing!!
People that I admire from afar are doing it. At a recent screening of Half the Road (http://halftheroad.com/) writer and director Kathryn Bertine was ablaze with her passion, and she should be. As a professional cyclist who had never made a film before, she created and launched a relevant and renowned documentary about the inequity of pay and opportunity in women’s professional cycling that is selling out in cities across the globe. And then there’s the drive in James Balog, which I’ve followed for years now. James founded Extreme Ice Survey (http://extremeicesurvey.org/) seven years ago and has been unrelentingly photographing glacial melt in remote regions of the planet and producing them in still and time lapse images so that we in our homes can see the impact of climate change. I could go on and on! The examples are innumerable!
To me, these are all expressions of real, authentic living! These people are doing what they are meant to do because they can’t not do it! In all of these cases the energy that these people give off is infectious. I’m helplessly drawn in! It’s one of those, “I want what she’s having” situations.
Do you know or admire people like that? People whose vocation expresses, reflects, and is driven by something that matters so deeply? Maybe you’re that person, that inspiration to someone else! Or maybe you dream about that kind of life.
What would it take for you to take a step, however small, toward becoming that person? What do you stand to lose and what could you gain? What if you made a choice that would inspire someone else?