Did He Have Passion?

In the very tolerable chick-flick Serendipity, there is a line spoken by Jeremy Piven’s character, an obituary writer for the NY Times, that goes like this:

You know the Greeks didn’t write obituaries, they only asked one question after a man died, ‘Did he have passion?’

Lately I’ve encountered a couple of men, who although very different, almost complete opposites actually, were driven by an intense and burning passion for their respective causes.  They were single minded in achieving an insurmountable goal and persevered against incalculable odds to succeed.  One of these men is named Charlie Wilson, a former Democratic Congressman from Texas, who had a weakness for liquor, women, and, allegedly, cocaine.  The other is William Wilburforce, the English Parliamentarian, devout Christian, philanthropist, and societal reformer.  These two men lived in very different times; Wilson was born in the 1930’s and still lives today, Wilberforce died in 1833.  They had very different passions; Wilson’s goal was to bring down the Soviet Union through the arming of the Afghan mujihadeen in their war against Red Army in the 1980’s, Wilberforce’s goal was to stop the English slave trade and abolish slavery altogether.  Very different times, very different goals, very different men.

However different they are, they both had a drive to accomplish something that burned so hot, so incandescent in their souls that they would not be deterred despite strong, very strong, opposition.  I intend to talk about both these men in more detail in later posts, but right now I’m focused on their passion.

By all accounts I’m a very low-key guy.  I can think of few times, and none recently, of having lost my temper.  I don’t usually get too excited, either too up or too down, no doubt to a fault.  I just go with the flow.  My wife and I are actually a perfect balance I think.  She probably worries a little too much about things and tends to think the worst first, I probably don’t worry enough and tend to think things will work out even if there is no clear evidence that it will.  Had I been a passenger on the Titanic I probably would have been the one rearranging the proverbial deck chairs.  At least some of the reasons for this lie in my own self-awarness and realizing that I don’t function logically or intelligently if I let my blood get too hot.  I probably learned this in high school.  I’d get into an argument with someone about something and would be so worked up I wouldn’t be able to form rational thoughts to get my point across.  Not that I was ever a hot-head, because I certainly wasn’t, but when things did get my ire I learned to let myself calm down, step back from the situation, and deal with it calmly.

For the most part, this demeanor has served me well.  But I think I may have gone too far.  I feel like I’m not truly passionate about much.  I don’t think this is a lack of passion in regards to relationships.  I love my wife, family, and friends very much and have in the past been passionate when it comes to their well-being.  So this isn’t about people.  I think its about a “cause”, though that doesn’t sound quite right.  I don’t know if there is any thing, or goal maybe is a better word, that really drives me.  My career goals are driven more from a desire to provide for my family than for any great occupational achievement.  Certainly, providing for ones family is a worthy pursuit, but lots of people provide for their families while still reaching whatever heights they had set out for themselves career wise.  In a way I envy that, but apparently not enough to take up a similar chase.  My extracurricular activities are given mostly to leisure and doing things I enjoy, but I’m not even really passionate about my hobbies.  As I’ve said before, I’ll be really into something for a while, then get bored with it and move on to something else.  I love Christ and try to do my best to serve Him, but am I truly passionate about it?

I don’t really know where I’m going with this.  I’m not down on myself.  I’m happy where I am right now, these things have just been on my mind.  Do I have passion?


9 thoughts on “Did He Have Passion?

  1. Too many…

    I feel I could use some of your calm demeanor at times. I find that I have to be either black or white on an issue….

    Frankly it tends to be quite tiring.

  2. It’s funny how we always want to be at least just a little bit different than we actually are. Not a lot, just a little. The grass is always greener I suppose.

    For me its not even really a black and white thing. I could be totally for or totally against something, not a doubt in my mind of where I stand, and I don’t know that I would ever, or could ever, physically express how I felt about it. Maybe what I’m looking for is a passion that sparks to action. That’s what Wilberforce and Wilson had. They were passionate about how they felt, but then they did something about it.

  3. Jeremy Writebol

    If you want to read something that will help get you that passion pick up John Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life… I think it will motivate you towards something good (or come by my office some time, I think I have a few copies hanging around).

  4. Rebecca

    I understand what you are talking about. I probably could use a dose of your calmness since I tend to probably act more like your wife. :) Maybe it is a woman thing, but worry can come easy to us. The hardest thing, especially when you have kids, is to remember that they ultimately are in God’s hands and you can’t “worry” them to safety…you pray a lot when you have kids! :)

  5. Jeremy – I’ve heard good things about that book. Maybe I’ll drop by your office this week.

    Rebecca – Hopefully I’ll at least be a little more conscientious, if not worried, when the baby comes. I don’t want, “Oh, it’ll be fine” to be famous last words.

  6. Ali

    Hi Ando, in my opinion, anyone who writes a blog asking the world if he has passion, has passion in spades.

    I’m watching Serendipity right now, for the gazillionth time. Everytime I hear that line about passion, I break into tears, for reasons that remain a mystery to me. Tonight, it caused me to type the words, “did he have passion” into google, which led me to your blog.

    You don’t have to have a hissy to have passion. You just have to have desire.

  7. Ali

    Did you notice my post was exactly two years to the DAY from your last post? Coincidence? Serendipity? I think NOT.

    That’s crazy! Thanks for the comments.

  8. Jesse

    You are observing an idea that you feel you lack. To find anything you might be passionate about you have to try many things. Try everything. Try anything new. Perhaps your only passion is your family and friends and that is an admirable passion. Many people take too little interest in each others lives especially the lives of those that mean the most to us. I think the absence of carrying for one anothers lives is one of the main problems affecting most of the modern world. On the other hand if you have set back and pondered and taken the time to write about an idea you feel is lacking in your life then perhaps you desire this passion for a cause or a hobby of interest. There is so much out there. I can say my passion is food, and sex, and sunrises, and sunsets, watching the wind blow through the trees or grasses or whatever it happens to be moving around. A plastic bag even. I like to watch the wind dance with the world. I’m passionate about music and dancing. And I’m passionate about thinking. I think much more than I do so where you may lack passion in your life I often feel I lack accomplishments in doing more in life. Think less and do more is a goal of mine. On a side note … if your wife worries too much or catastrophilses well thinking about things then she would be rewarded in writing her thoughts and feelings down in a Journal or Diary each night or each morning. These two thoughts she has are negative thinking processes that can be altered through living in the moment, observing the way we feel or handle something, acknowledging how they actually turn out, letting go of past failures or past negative events, and by seeking out being uncomfortable. Many people worry for fear of coming possibilities because they dislike the feeling of being uncomfortable. It leads to things like procrastination and catastrophising in the thinking sense of the word. To pursue a healthy level of discomfort in our lives as a desired goal helps us stress less. LIVE IN THE MOMENT! SEIZE THE DAY! And Carpe….I also find I have a propensity for violence and angry outbursts as I shoot the shit with people of the world. I like being angry. Perhaps you could try some Martial arts training, take up some Art Classes, Dance, bird watching, Offroad vehicle riding, mechanical crafts, or a cause like save the whales or save the forests. Two things on earth more important and more amazing then people are plankton and fungus. Sadly changes in world temperatures and run off from industrialization of nations is killing our oceans where most of our oxygen is created. Fungus on the other hand is a natural filter and breaks down poisonous chemicals created by people among other amazing qualities. Fungus grows in forests and forests help maintain cooler temperatures the world over. They are being loss at an alarming rate in some places. :p CHINA actually has the largest cultivation of new forests programs. Kinda cool. So you can also take up hunting. A calm demeanor and the willingness to work for your dinner as well as a great desire to protect the forest and our water ways and oceans would be a worthy cause the world over. I also like writing. :) So feel free to start small and write about your day. Then one day write about your life. Finally write about anything else that might interest you. Blogging can be a fun hobby.

  9. Jesse

    Kludge … a few notes of black or white and how to see the world in shades of gray. Always question authority as you know anybody who claims authority will abuse the power it comes with. Second take note of all the different ideas and perspectives of the world … with all the different points of view on everything it is so very rare that anything is black or white. Finally seek out TRUTHS that are not wavering no matter what religion or ideology they come from or how in the natural world they present themselves. What is the same for a rock, a one celled organism, a multi cellular apex culmination of systems that places a creature at the top of the food chain, or the universe itself is the same for it all. We are moved to satisfy needs and wants and many of these needs and wants are in the same ball park as the desires of everything else in the universe. Consume, Control, Change, and Create.

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