You know the days when you wake up and are so excited to get started that you literally cannot wait to jump out of bed and just get shit done? The days when you feel like even the biggest obstacles are just sandcastles? The days when you are filled with purpose and guidance and knowledge just seem to come floating down into your brain from the heavens, like an angel delivering Chinese take-out just before you pick up the phone and speed dial Dragon Golden China Chopsticks down the street?
Me neither. In fact, the word “passion” and I have had a strained relationship for several years, which is why it’s a miracle that I now get along with it so well that there it is at the top of every page on this website.
For the first few years of my adult life the word “passion” was like the cute water polo player I had a crush on in high school. I would do anything to get its attention. Be anything I needed to be so that it would think I was cool and worthy. Every day I would convince myself of my new “passion” and change everything about myself in order to make it feel real. For a summer my “passion” was art history. I made sure I had a book about art in my hands all the time, channeling my best Audrey Hepburn in that little sliding-ladder bookstore she adored in Funny Face. The clothes I wore changed. The music I liked suddenly changed. My hair. The food I liked. My travel interests. Even what I ate for breakfast became what I imagined an art historian would eat for breakfast.
This is just one example of dozens of “passions” that consumed my life and interest for my college years. My life was like a broadway show. Every day I was a new character. It was fun and exhilarating and wonderful… and also really awful.
You know how in Runaway Bride wide-eyed Julia Roberts has a serious, tearful chat with Richard Gere, explaining that she always runs because she never really knew herself? That she could never commit because she was always just pretending to be what other people wanted to be? That she was super screwed up from all the role playing she had done for years and years?
Well, me and passion was like Julia Roberts and commitment (only I have a smaller bank account and less of the perfect girl-next-door-look everyone loves…)
So, I wrote off passion like Roberts wrote off men. Didn’t need it.
In fact, I began wondering if passion was even real? Was anyone really truly passionate about one thing? One thing that they could commit to for the rest of their life and love and work on wholeheartedly day after day?
I’ll save you from the mush, but, long story short, I met my husband. I had kids. I found passion.
It doesn’t take long to realize, however, that pouring that much into others, relying that much on others for fulfillment and purpose is dangerous. Not that my husband and two adorably mischievous kids are anything but wonderful. But let’s face it - they get sick of me. They need their space. And then what do I do? And what happens when my life’s passion goes on a trip? Moves out? Yells at me? Yep, shit hits the fan.
So I went back into the wild. Not looking for “passion” but looking for adventure. Looking for something that makes me want to live enthusiastically and to work early in the mornings on little sleep. Something that will keep me company when my three human life passions are occupied (or sleeping on my shoulder like my son is now)…
I had fun. I found interests. And, unlike my college crush years, I learned to maintain (or at least be aware of) my sense of identity. I spent years skipping about - exploring, picking flowers, eating fresh fruit. Life was a big farmer’s market and I had a pretty basket and a cute dress.
But then LIFE interjected. Everywhere everyone talking about “Find Your Passion”, “Live Your Passion”, “Ignite Your Passion” …
And in the world outside of my home, I was passionless.
So I must be a loser. A big, passionless loser without a purpose. And, as you can guess, that does not make you want to get out of bed.
And, literally, less than a month ago someone, a lovely blonde writer we all know, got on my YouTube screen and said to forget about passion. FORGET ABOUT PASSION? This coming from Elizabeth Gilbert? The creative genius behind best-selling novels?
Yep, screw passion. You don’t need it, she said.
And, turns out, she’s right.
Over the past month I’ve been conducting experiments. Being curious about EVERYTHING. Well, everything I want to be curious about. I stopped saying to myself that I’m passionate about yoga. I stopped saying that I’m passionate about literature, reading, writing, baking, traveling, gardening, home decorating …
And I replaced “passionate” with “curious”.
Everything changed. I became less attached. I became more authentically interested. I began working on things I had been putting off not because it wasn’t important, but because I was so curious to see what would happen that I couldn’t wait.
I’m back at the farmer’s market - and it feels good. It feels good to sample and taste and get into conversation with people about beekeeping and mushrooms and the yeast to use in your starter.
I couldn’t sleep last night. So many ideas and projects kept coming to mind. But the lack of sleep wasn’t irritating - it was exhilarating. Blood-pumping, fist-bumping, high-fiving, jump-out-of-bed exciting.
So take this as fair warning that my avenue to passionate living is through curiosity. I don’t think it could be any other way. So when you see me posting things about broccoli flowers and the presidential election and the vedas and filming a video of me sweating in my living room as I channel my best Jane Fonda all in the same day - know that I’m not crazy. I’m curious.
And it’s a hell of a lot of fun.