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?