On Sunday afternoon, we spent several hours in the company of some truly lovely people. We attend a Quaker Meeting, and Sunday was the annual picnic.

Now our group of Quakers puts new vigor into the term “a peculiar people,” and we adore them for it.

Anyway, at our little table we had ourselves (my significantly-better-half, the-cutest-baby-ever, and me) and three other folks from Meeting. At one point two of the women, who are both passionate about (and work with) abused/troubled kids started talking about the treatment facility where they both do some work.

As I listened to them talk, I admired each of them for the passion they had for helping these kids. Most of them are considered to be unsuited for basic education in the schools (for behavioral problems mostly), and all of them are heavily medicated on the kinds of drugs that scare the daylights out of me.

Caring for and working with these kids isn’t just a job for either of these women (one is a doc, the other a nurse); this is a passionate vocation to give voice to the needs of these kids and then to stand up and do something about it.

Then I got to thinking …

Most of these kids are considered by many people to be throwaways. They’re poor, most of them are black, and all of them need a lot more attention than most of us feel we have time to give to someone not related to us by blood.

So I wondered if I should find some way to help. Really. There are never enough people to help in this kind of work.

And then I remembered that while I feel bad about the situation these kids are in – through absolutely no fault of their own – I don’t feel strongly enough to do something about it.

And that’s when I started to wonder if I’m the worst person ever.

After all, I admire and respect these women and they care enough about these kids to do something … what kind of snail slime am I to not lend a hand and join in the work with them?


Then I remembered …

Those kids, while deserving of far more than they will probably ever receive, are not my passion. I will cheer on those women at every opportunity. I will donate what I can, when I am able. But getting my hands dirty with those kids just isn’t for me.

And that’s okay.


Because there are other things for which I have the kind of passion that those women have for the kids.

I’m not less because I can’t manage to give to every passion that catches my attention. In fact, I think I give more of myself in better ways when I can recognize that my energies are best spent with the things I’m most passionate about.

We all have passions.

We really do.

Now they do vary wildly from person to person, and it’s hard to not pass judgment on those passions held by others that I view as silly (NASCAR anyone?). However, when I start down that path, I end up distracting myself from the things that really matter.

For example, I know someone who is over-the-top passionate about NASCAR. Because of that passion, he has become very involved in some charity work that NASCAR advocates. That somehow makes NASCAR less silly to me.

What is your passion?

Mine is words. Particularly the way that words can be ordered in such a way as to incite change. Change in people (including myself). Change in policy. Change in the world. (Because really, my passion is to change the world with words, but that sounds a bit grandiose this Tuesday afternoon.)

Personally, I struggle a lot with this passion. Not trusting it. Not believing it’s real. And right now, as I’m thinking those negative things, I call to mind those two women from the picnic again. Their passion is as strong as mine. And as worthy. If they can roll up their sleeves every day and do stuff, then so can I.

The point.

I’m not entirely sure I know what the point of this is today. After all, the picnic was just two days ago. I’m still digesting.

What I do know is that everyone has at least one passion, but many of us ignore it, compartmentalize it, or try to hide it because we think it’s not worth being passionate about (or we think people will think we’re crazy for being passionate about whales, global warming, or the federal deficit – and maybe we are). But whether or not we’re crazy, without real passion in life, what’s the real point of getting up in the morning? Why not stay in bed?

Look your passion squarely in the eye, and give it a great big hug.

Love it for whatever it is.

And live into it.

Every day.

That’s what makes life worth living.

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