“Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?” asks Mary Oliver in a famous poem. What is your answer?
And on a spectrum between faint interest and rabid obsession when are you in the red zone? These days, when do you light up? Sometimes the details of humdrum making a living are so entangling that even the idea of passion loses it juice. Gregg Levoy, in Callings, says that “passion is accompanied by the sound of primal yahoos, castanets in the heart, the beating of wings.” When and where do you experience this upsurge?
Passion is what we would do if we weren’t worried about consequences or the neighbor’s opinions or our self-image or just stuck in outdated routines.. It is the path we would follow if we dared rip away the “shoulds” of our lives and seek beneath them for meaning and connection. The form passion takes is less important than the movement to staple it to our living. Regardless of whether we take up the tenor sax, or trek in Nepal, began writing children’s books or open a knitted shawl business, something profound shifts. Sometimes adversity points out strengths we didn’t know we possessed, or a collaboration leads us in a new direction. We may educate ourselves into a calling or simply add a magical ingredient to our life without a total overhaul. Regardless, we must find the courage to seek our aliveness. The movement towards our passion is more critical than the shape it takes.
Often we freeze because we believe that living into passion means reconstructing our lives from the ground up – a daunting enterprise. Sometimes inertia imprisons us. If we re-frame our fears, we find moving into passion more like a breathing into a conspiracy of Life coming to meet us, if we dare whisper what ignites our creative force.
Reflection: In a journal over the next two weeks, record those events of each day where you came present. What sensations signaled that shift? What thoughts arose? After the two weeks, review for any emerging patterns. Then ask yourself: How can I bring more of this into my life? What next steps am I willing to commit to and for what length of time? Who can support me in this?
Passion connects us to our humanity – our dynamic, creative potential. Through a passionate engagement we respond to life deeply, fully. Breath deeply, come present and dance into your fullness. Like the knock of Love at the door, when passion rings the bell, there is only one response: Follow!