One night this week, I didn’t sleep. I’d been to the doctor that day and received some medication for an upper respiratory infection. And, I am really sensitive to drugs these days. So, I embraced the time awake. Reading. Writing. Editing photos. Watching documentaries on Netflix. And before the day break, I decided to go scope out a spot for a sunrise shoot I have scheduled in the coming week. Because my self-dedicated and ambitious spouse had already left for the gym, I took the dog with me.
As we loaded the car, the rain fell steady on the pavement. And so I knew there would be no sunrise. Well, there would be. The sun rises every day. But the clouds and rain would leave it concealed. I’d have to rely on a compass and my imagination to see where the sunrise might take place.
Occasionally, we parked at gates and took 90 steps – fewer for Cash Diehl’s long strides – to plant our feet on what appeared higher ground. For about 30 minutes we drove. At some point I found myself driving on a main street where I saw a jogger out of the corner of my eye. She wore black runners shorts and a neon green rain jacket. Had it not been for her jacket that announced her presence at the the crosswalk long before she set foot in the street, I might not have seen her.
And as she jogged across the bridge of my Jeep, I thought with some distinction, “She must be crazy.” To run in this rain like this, she must be crazy?! And the thought occurred to me that though the Cowtown Marathon just occurred, she might still be training for the next race. An amateur she was not.
And, then, it hit me: passion. She was running – rain or shine, dawn or dusk. Because running was her passion.
And I was driving around scouting locations – in the dark, recovering from illness, at a severe lack of rest – for my latest art escapade. Because art is my passion.
By the time the woman had made it across the street – which was mere seconds due to her skilled gait – I realized the essence of every spiritual teaching: the other person is you.
She is I. I am she. Both possessed with a fair degree of crazy – a little spark of madness…the Divine substance which causes our hearts to beat and our hair to grow. Both dedicated to our respective passions.
The word passion connotes two things for me:
- a thing that rouses enthusiasm. Writing, yoga, nature, taking portraits – these activities rouse enthusiasm for me. Enthusiasm stems from the Latin root, enthousiasmos, or “possessed by a god.” Enthusiasm means you’ve got the Spirit inside of you. You feel It.
- suffering. Passion takes its origins from the Greek or Latin word, passio, which at one time meant “suffering.” Later it evolved to mean a strong emotional desire.
When I am living my life from a place of passion, I experience a connection to Spirit that once completely eluded me. Connection to Spirit, I’ve realized is not static. Feeling it hungover from steroids and a lack of sleep is more challenging than it is on a day when I feel vibrant and at ease.
And when I am living my life from a place of passion, inevitably I still experience suffering. Now let me just say that, in a literal sense, I rarely run – unless someone’s chasing me…or I’m paying the trainer to make me. Figuratively, however, over the past five years as an entrepreneur and artist chasing my dreams, I’ve run many a rainy day. Some days I wanted to run. Some days I didn’t. Dread all too often places a stumbling block before my quick feet.
I was supposed to present at a middle school career day this week. “What should I tell them?” I had scoffed when they initially asked me. I make it a point not to give advice. I mean, quitting my day job to teach yoga and take photographs has worked out for me. But, I had help. Financial. Emotional. Spiritual. I didn’t have other mouths to feed. I wouldn’t suggest my path to everyone. And I think of all of those young kids who want to be famous athletes. I was once one. But, hello, I’m 5’3″. When I get off the plane to teach an out of town workshop, it never fails, the studio liaison says, “I thought you’d be bigger.” Some dreams we must let die. And even still, passion – more passion, other passion, better passion – remains.
“Follow your passion?” Yes. That’s what I would tell them, if I had a voice to speak. I’d say: Find what you’re crazy about. And follow it. Follow your passion like your life depends on it. Even when you’re sick. Even when you’re tired. When it’s raining. When you’re crying. When you feel as though what you’re doing is a waste of time and it would be much easier to play it safe – especially then – follow your passion. Your soul did not incarnate for any other reason than to follow your passion and encourage others to do the same. And, by the same token, give up the stuff which doesn’t bring you closer to your passion. “Stuff” might include self-limiting beliefs, negative thought patterns, self-destructive behaviors, substances, and people.
“But I don’t have a passion,” I can hear the choir sing. “I don’t know what it is.” People write to me all of the time about this.
Not to worry. Immerse yourself in serving others. Even if you don’t find your passion, you’ll forget to pity yourself for not having any passion. You’ll feel fulfilled. And connected to Spirit. So you arrive at the same destination with different transportation. You can drive. You can run…walk…crawl. The transportation is always up to you. But whatever path you choose, take it enthusiastically.