Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Finding your Passion

There is a new show on MTV called World of Jenks. It is a short documentary style series that follows a young filmmaker (Andrew Jenks) as he spends time with people from all walks of life. So far, he has spent time with a homeless teen, a rapper, a UFC fighter, a teen suffering from Autism and an animal rescuer. He takes a lesson from each person and moves on. At the close of last night's episode, Jenks, who narrates the show, explained that though her work was dangerous, the animal rescuer was following her passion. He went on to explain that the root of the word "passion" comes from the Latin word meaning "suffer." It surprised me and then made me think about all of the inspirational quotes that encourage us to follow our passion.

If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you.
-- T. Alan Armstrong

Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.
-- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life.”
-- Federico Fellini

If you replace passion with suffering in those quotes, they somehow lose their appeal. No one truly wants to suffer. Yet, the quotes don't lose their meaning. Isn't it true that if there is no suffering in our lives, we haven't really lived or accomplished anything? Of course, if given the chance, we would all wish the suffering of the world away but aren't we often greater people for having faced and overcome the suffering that pops up in our lives? Would I be as passionate about helping victims of domestic violence/sexual assault if I had not once been there myself? Or would I have developed a passion for writing if suffering didn't give me a need to vent? Would I care about lobbying for greater health care coverage in the U.S. if I wasn't sick and battling with insurance companies? Simply put, no, not at all.

Finding and exploring your passion may not always be a pleasant process and it may not lead you into glorious work for which you are well paid, but it will teach you many life lessons. At the end of your life, when you remember what you were passionate about, chances are you won't reflect on the suffering. Instead (if you are lucky) you will speak poetically about fulfillment and passion and the meaning it gave to your life. You will encourage others to follow their passion as you did.
Perhaps sharing that lesson is the point of this life. We are distracted and worried by many things but maybe the gut punch in your life (whatever it may be) will lead you to your purpose. Embrace it but don't dwell on it. Figure out the lesson and where it should lead you. Maybe it will lead to a change in the world. Maybe it will just lead to a change in you. Either way, the world is better for it.

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