I am indebted to Dr. Jim Carraway for the inspiration for this column. The doctor is a well known plastic surgeon who has a passion for wellness, specifically achieved through good nutrition. He spends much of his valuable free time giving talks and seminars to both doctors and the general public about good nutrition. He draws a crowd and no one leaves disappointed.
Two obvious reasons are that we all know how important nutrition is and we want to live longer staying well. 'I plan to live to be 100,' Dr. Carraway often states, adding, 'But I don't want to look 100.' But the main reason for this engaging physician's magnetism with his audiences, I believe, is his passion for the subject.
After I attended the doctor's presentation last month, he sent me an email which inspired this column. 'Isn't it wonderful how humans were given the gift to have a grand passion!' he wrote. I have passion for what I do and I thank God for this gift every day, as I'm sure the good doctor does for his.
I can remember jobs that did not give me joy. One in particular springs to mind. It was a summer job in a General Electric clock factory when I was a teenager. I began work at 7 am and finished at 3 pm. My aunt drove me home where I fell into bed exhausted, sleeping until called to dinner about 6. Piece work was not what I wanted to do all my life and I went back to college absolutely committed to getting an education that would allow me to do work I loved. It did and I am.
Somewhere along the line I realized that we are all different and we are all passionate about different things. The earlier these things can be identified, the better. And the earlier these things can be encouraged and supported, the better. I thought I did this with my own children, but I'm certain not enough.
For a while, I had high hopes that one or both would take over The Shopper and Press Pass Agency when the inevitable day arrived. Each had unique talents that seemed a natural fit. But our dreams are not transferable to our children. They may share our dreams, but we cannot transfer dreams. They may have all the ability, but ability is not enough for this kind of business. This is a business where passion counts. I suspect passion counts in every business. In fact, I believe passion counts in being successful in life.
I know I respect passion now with my grandchildren. I'll never forget the first time I took Heather into an art gallery 6 years ago. Art galleries are fine, but are not my passion. But Heather is artistic so I took her in to one. She almost ran back and forth, breathless. She was thrilled to find that there really was a place with paintings everywhere. It was just wonderful to witness the joy she expressed.
This past month, I took Heather and Lauren to the Zoo each morning for a week long camp and they will have another week this month. I was tenuous about rising shortly after 6 am in order to get myself ready, collect the girls at their homes, and get them to the Zoo on time each morning, but I decided to view it as a wonderful opportunity when time with them could also support their passion and that worked for me. Heather took a Jr. Zookeeper course, perfect for her veterinarian aspirations, and Lauren, who loves both animals and drawing, took Animals and Art!
Neither of these passions are mine, but it doesn't matter whether or not we share a passion, only that we honor it in another.
My husband is passionate about hunting. Come October first, he is one happy man. The excitement starts in September as he mentally, if not actually, counts down the days to the opening of the season. I am not a fan of hunting, and particularly not of guns. But that fact doesn't change my pleasure in seeing how happy he is when doing his thing.
If I concentrated on the gun part, it would obscure all that is good about Terry's hunting. He loves being with his sons and friends in the great outdoors, he loves watching nature as he sits alone waiting for a chance sighting of a deer, he loves to cook the tenderloin I love to eat (they eat all they shoot). He leaves before dawn and returns after dark. The season lasts three months and marks the highlight of his year. While I don't feel neglected during this time of the hunt, he is always concerned that I might. He thanks me profusely for understanding how much hunting means to him and not giving him a hard time about it. It is a two way street, of course. When I am writing I can be off in another world. I am a free spirit and he honors that. It is no small gift.
I try to identify what a person's passion is and that helps me in the relationship. I've had a few people tell me over the years that I changed their lives by encouraging them to follow their passion. Those have been the greatest compliments and reaffirm who I try to be.
If we all honor each others' passions, I think we'll have a better world. Trouble begins when passions are thwarted. When we can pursue what we are passionate about, we're totally involved and fulfilled. When we are surrounded by people who understand that, even when they do not share them, we are fortunate indeed.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 39 years.
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