What’s your passion?

I admire people who know their passion. People with passion get things done, often against tremendous odds. Just one example: Jonas Salk worked for decades, with passion, to find a vaccine effective against polio. We all lined up in the 1950s for the vaccine, and polio ceased to terrify the nation at the onset of every summer season.

But what if you don’t know what your passion is? Like me. I don’t have a ‘passion.’ And not for lack of trying. I’ve participated in workshops to discover what I should be doing with my life. I’ve thought long and hard to answer the question I’ve been told will help you uncover your passion: What would you do if money were no object?

My problem is that I am wildly passionate about many things. For about 15 minutes. My prairie. My latest vacation. Flowers. Photography. Reading. Art. A new recipe. Good grief, I can even be passionateabout painting the bathroom.

I am fortunate to have discovered a talent as a writer. As a writer, I can indulge my long list of interests while honoring my short attention span. As a writer, I come into regular contact with people who do know their passion. And I can enjoy their passions as I share their stores with others in articles I write.

In the latest issue of The Iowan, I shared two such stories. One is of Kimberly Madison, a talented artist who declares she is ‘standing on the shoulders’ of her African American ancestors as she creates paintings and uses the proceeds to benefit charitable organizations. The second is Kevin “BF” Burt, a singer who is working to create the unique sound of Iowa blues. Kimberly and Kevin know their passions and pursue them every day.

With each assignment, the more I learn about the passions of the people I meet, the more excited I become. Artists. Musicians. Those who quilt or play Go or restore pioneer cemeteries. It is all intensely interesting to me – in the short term. The world is so full of so many interesting people and activities, how could I limit myself to just one passion?

American author, theologian, and civil rights leader Howard Thurman is reported to have said: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

In my case, one of the things the world needs – good writers and communicators – is also what makes me come alive – learning about and sharing the lives of others.

As we launch a new year, I can get my arms around ‘coming alive.’ If money is no object, or if it is, I can get excited about coming alive.

Join the conversation. Your comments or questions welcomed!

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