Saturday, September 26, 2009

Water Evaporates… So Do Skills (and Passions)

Every single one of us is blessed in some way or other. The plain reality is everyone has multiple facets of manifest ability. Whether it’s the development, acquisition or maintenance of our abilities, we need to keep them at the cutting edge or they ebb away. But, it’s not a normal skill we’re most interested in here; it’s our passions—our lifeblood—that we must keep alive and nurture, and at that, passionately so.

Without a passion for living we just don’t get into life, though there’s no shortage of things any person might get involved in. And I’m not talking about supporting a football team passionately, for instance—anyone can do that.

A passion is something different. It’s something exceptional… it leads us to the exceptional.

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” —Julia Child.

Having a passion to make our lives mean something is crucial. It takes us away from the pettiness of life which the majority find themselves entwined in. The passions in our lives distract us from the off-putting stuff that means nothing.

The morally wise person finds their passion—they search for it and don’t give up until they’ve found it. Then they invest bountifully in it. And depending on where it takes them, they continue to maintain and hone that passion, perhaps even tempering their passion so it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of their otherwise good life. It’s a question often also of balance. Is the passion good or bad? Does it manifest too well and shove us off balance?

If we don’t nurture our passions, skills and abilities they fade—our effectiveness and efficiency wanes and we become less impressive and become less fulfilled within ourselves.

Our passions fix our identities. They anchor us as this person or that. They determine “who” we are a great amount of the time. And these passions come from deep within, from the core of our being—nothing, in a sense, would be more natural.

And a clear sense of personal identity is one of three indelible marks of the person with the fulfilled life.[1] We cannot therefore underestimate what contribution passions play in life, provided these passions involve goodness (and other virtue) and allow, and even augment, loving relationships to sustain us.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

[1] Os Guinness, Time for Truth: Living Free in a World of Lies, Hype, & Spin (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), p. 71. I’m drawing this from the quote: “It is often said that to have a fulfilling life, three essentials are required: a clear sense of personal identity, a deep sense of faith and meaning, and a strong sense of purpose and mission.” (Italics added.) People who don’t have significant portions of each three will always generally struggle to attain and maintain ‘the fulfilled life.’

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