In our earlier years, whenever we felt passionate about something that was out of our comfort zone, we may have written it on a mental note and tucked it in the drawer labeled, To Be Addressed Later. We may have wanted a horse to ride and care for. We may have pictured ourselves at the top of the Eiffel Tower or caring for small children in a village in Africa. Learning more about the birds in our backyard might have been a yearning.
Our intuition may know that later is now, and that the light of that passion is still burning. It may be a soft pilot light or a blinding bright light. It may only flicker at certain times. The background scenery may be a bit different but the light doesn’t seem to want to go out. In fact, the more we try to ignore it, the stronger it becomes.
The other day I read a quote from Angeles Arrien, a cultural anthropologist who has written a ground breaking book, The Second Half of Life, Opening The Eight Gates of Wisdom. As an anthropologist, she has spent a lot of time with indigenous people who use the following questions when someone seems dispirited or depressed. These are important questions as we explore what has happened in our lives to cause us to keep our passion submerged, and how we can remember as young children we were born singing and dancing.
Where in your life did you stop singing?
Where in your life did you stop dancing?
Where in your life did you stop being enchanted by stories, especially your own stories?
When in your life did you stop being comfortable with the sweet territory of silence?
I have talked with many individuals who are lost now that they have retired. Their lives don’t seem to have much meaning anymore. One secret in the search for meaning is to explore your passion/s and pursue them.
What did you most love to do when you were 12 years old? Whatever happened to that fiery kid who was obstinately passionate about some pursuit before you began to fit into the uniform that may have been more comfortable for the adults in your life?
What activity do you do when time goes by without you even knowing it? The more you focus on that activity, the more time you give it, and the more likely you are to become passionate about it.
When I left corporate America several years ago, I began inquiring into my own passions. Often the thought of writing would come to mind with a little tickle inside, which seemed irritating. I had no idea what I would write about. One day to relieve this irritation, I sat down and began writing. One word led to another and I found that I wasn’t aware of the time. I have enjoyed writing ever since. (I often smile thinking of my high school English teacher who would send my papers back to me with all of the unnecessary words crossed out. Now I still feel Mr. Stanley looking over my shoulder, and I try to use only necessary words.)
Finding your passion is a very personal journey. The process of discovering your passions is a form of purpose and passion in itself. Experiences relegated as off limits by fear are just the ones holding the most promise for discovery. When you begin seeing new connections, it will be so satisfying and exciting that you will surely be hooked and will understand the power behind all of this. Some very wise person once said, Wherever you put your passion, that is where your power is.
The Huffington Post recently quoted author Joe Robinson saying that passions introduce you to yourself, long forgotten under a pile of duty and obligation. They reacquaint you with the enthused, eager soul you use to be, pre-adult straitjacket, and gives you a reason to be that person more often. You’re home at last.
Barb Warner, MEd