Just after I wrote this week’s column, I opened up my current issue of “Body and Soul” and there it was, a whole article about this very same subject!
The article spoke of finding the passion we had as a child, and the invitation to make a list (yes, a list) of all those things you loved to do as a child, then make another list of everything you want to do right now - with no limitations (climb Mt. Everest, go to the North Pole, be a lounge club singer - those are just some of mine). As I read, I was amazed that the article even FELT like what I’d said, although I hadn’t seen the article until after I’d written my column. There was no WAY I could’ve been influenced. So then I started thinking about all of the other coincidences in my life that are occurring in quick succession, and one REALLY strange one comes to mind. When I went to hear Greg Mortenson last Friday, a Norwegian speaker was on right before Greg. He told us about the seed bank they’d created high in the mountains, and how they’d picked that spot because it was so safe. Ironically, they just had an earthquake up there, but luckily the seed were okay. I’d never heard of the seed bank before (have you?). That VERY same day, my eight year old came home from school, and said, “... that’s sort of like that seed bank.” WHAT? I almost screamed (hey, it’s been known to happen, me screaming). “The seed bank,” he calmly explained, “where they put all of the seeds in the world for safekeeping in case something happens and they need to repopulate the vegetation.”
What are the odds, I ask you, what ARE the odds? Not even calculable. Now, you may tell me this is no big deal, but to me, having NEVER heard of the seed bank before, then to hear it from TWO different sources in one day - that is not a coincidence in my world. So that is what I’m feeling all this week - like everything is conspiring to have special meaning in my life, and how everything is symbolic. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything on the surface, and maybe I don’t “get it,” but I still believe that if there are coincidences, they have meaning. Oh, and besides that, anyone else notice all the recent showings of “The Matrix?” My almost-favorite all-time movie ever?? (Besides “Contact” and “Fifth Element”) I tuned in right at the point of the small boy bending the spoon, calmly telling Neo, “the trick is to remember - there IS no spoon.” So that’s my mantra for the day - “remember - there IS no spoon.” Let’s see what magic happens!!!
Q: Dear Susie, I read your response to the 22 year old man who felt he was drifting. I liked your suggestion of having him think about what he felt passionate about when he was younger and to think about what he loves to do now. I remember when I was a child, I used to love anything related to art and I used to be really passionate about animals. The problem is that I don’t seem to be passionate about much these days, which worries me. I really enjoy my job, but I find that I’ve lost something in my adulthood, and wonder how many people are in my boat. I want that passion for life back (which I now see in my child). Any ideas?
A: From what I’ve seen, your question is a common complaint. It seems that we start our lives as a blank slate, and we fill it in with magic. We don’t have any responsibilities or obligations. We’re free to explore the inner landscapes of our creativity, and we don’t have any limits.
Then we start school. We begin to get structured. Our daily events get scheduled into neat time slots. We have timelines and projects and goals and deadlines. All lines! They force us to walk in straight lines, instead of dancing and swirling and twirling as we did as children.
I still maintain that it’s possible to incorporate that magic we felt as children, and still remain responsible, mature adults. How? First of all, by making it a priority. Whatever you decide is important, you give your time and energy to. If it’s not perceived as important, you relegate it to the bottom of your list, and it will probably never get done. Like putting your feet up and just resting. Or dragging out your paints and paper and drawing for the fun of it.
Ironically, most parents love having children because it gives them permission to play again. You don’t have to apologize for getting down on the ground and looking up at the clouds, or for coloring in the coloring book, because it’s called “spending time with the kids.” It’s justified. For the kids, that’s a priority.
So I’ll ask you this: can you list your priorities, in order of importance? Is having fun and being creative and not “achieving” anything in particular on your list at all? I think not.
I’m seeing you as basically a free spirit, highly intelligent and creative, but with high expectations for yourself. You’re a perfectionist, and aren’t very kind to yourself when you “mess up.”
Do you think children have any criteria for “messing up?” Or would they say, “Cool!!! Look at that!” when their mud pie gets squashed by a foot? That idealized version of childhood has no limits, no expectations other than exploration and fun.
So, if you’re really serious about this, again, make it a top priority in your life for the next six months or so. Keep a running list of everything that catches your fancy—scrapbooking, filmmaking, photography, baking bread, mountain climbing, sculpture, screenwriting, travel, kayaking.
Just make the list—that jumpstarts your psyche into moving toward possibility. Your right brain will wake up and get excited—“Hey, she’s letting us have a little fun! Let’s get going.”
Once you’ve got a good start on your list (and keep your list going for the rest of your life—it’s good practice), pick one activity to pursue in earnest. Incorporate it into your daily life.
Think about it, read up on it, plan your day around it. Show that it’s important to you.
This gives that creative, passionate side of you the attention and energy that’s needed to catapult you into an energetic state of mind. Now you’re eager to get up every morning because you get to do “it” (whatever “it” ends up being). You’re not just filling your days with monotony and dread and duties. This is fun! Yippee—I’m so happy to be here and be alive.
I have an ongoing list like that. One of my current desires is to learn to speak Italian. I’m researching different programs. Another desire is to learn how to make crepes. I’m scouring cookbooks for different recipes to try.
You see? They don’t have to be big goals—some are big, some are small, some are medium. You’ll want all different sizes so you can be working on several at the same time. When you accomplish one of them, you’ll feel so excited and expanded, and, well, passionate again.
Try it. I think you’ll like it.
We all need passion in our lives, no matter our age. I remember as a child, running around a group of adults who were sitting in a circle at the lakes, just talking. I had a clear thought at that moment: adults are so boring. I’m never going to be like that. Am I like that now?
Sometimes, I’m sure. I like to sit and talk, but other times? Get me a good song, and I’m up and dancing, no matter where I am (just ask my kids). Nope, not boring at all. Life is what you say it is for you. Loosen up your rules and regs and lines, and dance your dance again. Your life will thank you.
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