At least twenty years ago I read an article with a couple lines that have stuck with me ever since (that doesn’t happen very often!): “You have time in life for just one passion. So pick your passion.”
The idea that we should identify, follow, and develop our passions is a common theme in many of the books I’ve read. It makes a lot of sense to me, and I’m guessing most of us see pursuing our passion(s) as a good thing.
But I wonder how much we can really pick our passions. Passion, it seems to me, is at least as much a product of how we are wired as it is a choice. Politics, for instance, leaves me completely and totally cold. It seems like something I should care more about, but the truth is: I don’t. I know there are lots and lots of people who do, and to them this aspect of my character must seem like a grave failing (and perhaps it is). But be that as it may, I am not one of them.
When I was in school—graduate school, even—I often wished I was more passionate about my studies. But again, the truth is that all too often I would rather have been out on a stream fishing, and many times (even when I should’ve been in class) that is precisely where I was.
As a priest, there are aspects of my job I wish I were more passionate about. For instance, in recent years it has been suggested that one of the essential functions of a “senior” pastor is fund raising. But one more time, the simple truth is I just don’t care much about money. It is not, and never has been, particularly important to me. Call it a failing, call it what you will, but it does not change the facts.
So I’m not sure we pick our passions as much as we learn to recognize them. And then, perhaps, we learn how to make peace with them so they do not completely consume our lives.
Or do we? Is that the whole point of a passion, that it consumes us and compels us accordingly?