In my last post, part 1, I went on about how it can be difficult to actually separate your passions from the many things you like in life. Some signs of NOT following your passions reveal themselves in obvious ways. If you are working on something (a career, towards a goal, a project) and the work feels like a drudgery, mustering the enthusiasm or energy for the work is difficult, or the work is the means to the goal only. I’d venture to suggest that you are probably not pursuing something you are truly passionate about.
Q: How do you know if you are passionate about a thing?
A 1: The energy, commitment, enthusiasm, and desire to pursue the passion wells up within you spontaneously without effort on your part. In other words, it’s easier to follow this thing than it would be to ignore or avoid it. When you turn away it gnaws at your insides. In the morning when you are laying comfortably in bed the desire for it makes you throw the covers off. I don’t have to try and get excited about photography, I just am. I don’t try to muster the enthusiasm to do a photo shoot, instead there seems to be a boundless supply of motivating desire for it.
A 2: The pursuit of a passion is satisfying and rewarding in the present moment. According to my definition a passion can not be solely embodied in the future. I think it’s possible to be passionate about reaching a goal, but if you find that the process is not a pleasure then I think it’s time to reconsider. The best way I can explain this is a surfing analogy. For about 10 years I’ve had a vague goal of becoming a skilled surfer, but the first wave I caught was just as fun as the wave yesterday, and if I ever reach this nebulous goal of being ‘skilled’ I don’t expect that I’ll enjoy surfing anymore than I did 10 years ago. That’s because my passion for surfing is not contained solely in the goal of being skilled, my passion is for surfing period. The process, the means towards the goal, is satisfying and rewarding in the present moment.
There is much more that could be said on this, so let’s look at some photos. The photos in this post are of a friend and kayak surfer with real passion, Randy Keller. The image at the top shows Randy trying to take his frozen hand out of a frozen glove after a surfing session during a winter storm. Notice the ice covering everything, including his one remaining lens in his glasses. The photos below tell the rest of the story that lead up to the top photo.
Randy makes it pretty obvious that when a person is following a true passion the endurance or commitment required to overcoming great obstacles is provided. He does not suffer through a session like this, he loves it. I don’t think he particularly enjoys throbbing cold hands and breaking his glasses, but he certainly has a passion for kayak surfing, and lives out a very obvious example of how a passion provides the energy and enthusiasm required for its wholehearted pursuit. The air temp was probably around 10F, it was snowing hard and blowing roughly 30mph. If you are curious about this Randy Keller guy, check out his adventure guiding business – Isuma Guideworks.