I’m watching Tony Bourdain, who though he can spurt invective that does him no credit, is the coolest TV personality and food writer I can think of. And he’s in Italy and he was interviewing a chef who gets his own seafood by snorkeling and diving right off his own coast.
The guy is bald and thin, full of energy. He’s not a big and heavy pasta and meatball guy, though I imagine he could knock back a carbonara with the best of them. No, he’s seafood and sauce, vegetables and herbs and wine–and he’s impossibly happy. His smile lights up the screen. He flips a delicate pan of spaghetti and herbs with such gusto, you’d swear it will stay on the ceiling as he does it.
I’m not jealous. I’m inspired, a little in awe. Yes, I want to have that kind of joie de vivre, but at times, I do. This guy lives his passion and I suppose I’ve known about passion for a long time. But it’s just now catching up to me. It’s just now hitting me at 46 that you have to live your passion-or at least find it. You have to know what drives you and I do, now. I know what drives me.
So, the other day, I’m talking with Peanut who, rather all of a sudden, has found her passion–or at least one of them. She’s a bona-fide horseback riding student and her teachers are remarkable people who have a ranch not too far from here. She loves it. She loves the animals, loves cleaning them and feeding them, grooming them and tacking them and then riding them.
I sat with her in the car, that’s where we do our best talking it seems, and I gave her the first real fatherly advice I can remember giving her that she might actually remember. “You’ve found something you’re passionate about. That’s a beautiful thing, honey. It’s a gift. You’ve been given the gift of having a direct line into the reason we are here, the reason we’re alive. We’re here to pursue those things if we can and there are many people in the world, most people in the world, who never even get the chance. I’m proud of you–and happy for you.”
She beamed. She knows it, too. Now, she gets to live it. And her mom and I get to watch her grow into it–or out of it. Who knows? She’s 10.
But I’m not 10 and still, I know what she feels. I’m inspired by the past few years of writing people’s stories and sharing them with the world. The ones that stay with me, though, are the ones about people pursuing passion. Sandy who directs a local hospice and is vehement in sharing her love of life and sharing what life is about through caring for those who are dying and their families.
There’s Brian, who is a rocket scientist–got the bona fides to prove it-who followed his heart and developed a new travel company online that is going to be huge.
Michael, an artist and professor of art who rather motivated an entire university art department to move toward the atelier system and bring back the idea of figurative painting. “Art brings joy,” he says, not interested in the post-modernist 20th century of deconstructed life.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Fitzgerald said, “life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all.” He meant it, perhaps sardonically. But there’s truth in there. Passion leads us down a road and necessarily, we turn our backs on others-but passion also gives us the gift of being able to appreciate that there are other windows. That’s why there’s chocolate and vanilla, or something like that.