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The Pursuit of Passion


I’ve always admired people who have a passion to pursue. In fact, I’ve often felt envious of people whom I’ve known, and haven’t known, who were deeply committed to a craft, career, sport or other hobby. Their passion has brought joy to my life and, presumably, their own. Actors/Actresses on the big screen as well as on the stages of community theaters throughout Massachusetts. Writers. Sports figures. Singers. Musicians.

And it's not as if I don’t like my job. I do. At the same time, I’m guessing it’s a very small handful of people who arrive at the end of their life and as they look back think, “Dammit. I wish I spent more time at the office.” Recently, my niece’s boyfriend replied to a friend’s comment on Facebook with, “Work to live not live to work.” And I thought, “I knew I liked that guy.”

But passion! I always felt inspired by those doggedly pursuing their passion. I’m more of a dabbler. I’ve always had an eclectic, hodge podge group of interests and have been willing to try almost anything at least once. I dabble in a wide array of things I enjoy doing and I tend to keep my interests in rotation, so to speak, so that I don’t grow bored of any one thing in particular. I feared I was missing out on something by not having a passion.

Recently, I’ve begun listening to the audio book of Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain during my commute to and from work. From the opening sentences, it’s clear that Bourdain has a passion for food. The art and the craft of cooking. This book was published in May of 2000. 18 years and approximately one month later, Bourdain hung himself in a hotel room in Kaysersberg, France.

What happened? This is a rhetorical question, of course. We will never know the answer. The conclusion I am forced to consider, to realize and accept, is that passion was not enough to sustain Bourdain, or Spade or even, one of my personal favorites, Phillip Seymour Hoffman who killed himself in a different way - - relapsing on drugs after 23 years of sobriety.

There are numerous quotes about passion and I find that I disagree with many of them. This one, I like:

Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.” –Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

Bourdain, Spade and Hoffman are less than a handful of stars who burned brightly, shooting across the landscape, pursuing their passion. Eventually, crashing and extinguishing.

Maybe dabbling isn’t so bad after all. I'll continue to be uncool, which is to say vulnerable and honest, and dabble in writing and share with the rest of you. Whatever your passion, make time to dabble and to be uncool at times, sharing with the rest of us.


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