But it's curious timing, in the midst of this whole "midlife" thing. I'm frequently asked, "What's your passion?", the question hinting at the old saying, "Find the work you love, and you'll never work a day in your life", or some variation of the same. The belief is that we could all be doing something we love, something we're passionate about, in order to feel fulfilled.
It's an appealing theory, but is it realistic? I, ever the pessimist, wonder, "What if you just really don't know what your passion is?"
|A local resident cleaning fish on Romblon Island, RP.|
I've just returned from a 20-day trip to the Philippines. Visiting that beautiful nation really messes me up. I love the lure of the islands, and the agricultural landscapes of the countryside. I also enjoy the grinding cityscape of sprawling metro Manila, and the gracious Filipino hospitality in every place. Like most non-Western nations, it is a land of contrasts. I browsed in shopping malls as nice as any I've seen here, and I walked through slums that turned my stomach and broke my heart. I met comfortably wealthy nationals living in spacious homes and I met some very poor people with few possessions to their name. But even then, how odd to see small homes, shacks really, perched beachside, in places we'd pay handsomely for a 1-week getaway (if we could get there easily and stay in sufficient comfort). The residents wake up every morning to a view most of us have to settle for as a desktop wallpaper.
|Making a living from the garbage dump in Tondo/Balut, Manila, RP.|
And I thought, "No one here has the luxury of 'pursuing their passion' at work."
|Kids always find a way to play.|
The problem is not that some have passion and others don't, it's that passion gets lost. It is possible to let a job, a crisis, or an institution wring passion right out of us, until we forget that we ever had any. The garbage dump scavengers I saw could live with passion, but for most, their need to survive has squeezed it out.
I'm not trying to create passion in my life - I'm just creating some space so passion can breathe again, can find life and rise to the surface.
So it likely won't be passion for an occupation, unless that occupation allows me to pour myself into that which feeds greater passion, realities like true relationships, for example, or the opportunity to meaningfully care for people. A pastor, mechanic or assembly-line worker can all live with or without "passion", regardless of their occupation. We find fulfillment not IN our work, but we may find it THROUGH our work.
Passion: what's yours?