Sunday, August 5, 2012


Someone once asked me what my passion was. "Passion", I replied.

"Yes," they said, "passion."

"No," I corrected, "passion."

"Uhm, yes," they tried to correct again, "passion."

Recognizing that we were on the way to an Abbott and Costello routine, I explained that passion was my passion. One of my favorite things to do is to ask people what they are most passionate about.

There was one time I did that and the lady I asked blushed. As you can imagine, I was expecting her to reply with something that would most likely embarrass me, but instead she said that I wouldn't believe her. "Please", I continued, "I'd really like to know."

"Jet engines."

I was actually taken aback at that, and said, "Really? Why?"

It seemed like she was ashamed to have admitted such a thing, so I went on. "No, seriously, why? They don't interest me at all, and I'd love to see what you see in them."

Her chin raised just a bit and she went from looking down towards the floor to right in my eyes. Then she began to talk. Hesitant. Unsure. But she continued, until she was a pillar of confidence. She talked about their design, their function, their elegance, their power. She went on, becoming more and more animated with every sentence, every phrase, every word. Most likely an hour passed and I swear I never noticed. She had taught me to find beauty and passion in something I had never considered before: jet engines.

This is why passion is my passion.

Everything in life, everything in the world, everything we encounter is worth being passionate about. There is no point in being listless or lifeless about anything.

One of my favorite activities for years was to go to coffee shops and talk with people and to try and discover their passion. I would ask them all sorts of questions until they finally opened up and shared what they most loved. It was so rewarding. And I learned to appreciate so many varied things in the world.

It is such a shame, though, that so many people are reluctant to share their passion, either for fear of being scorned or rejected. It is as if our society has beaten it out of them. Or perhaps their inner walls have become so great that their passion can longer burst out. Either way, we need to find a way to help release these great passions in the world. For if we don't, the loss will be incalculable.

One of  the great fears about doing this, for many of us, is that those who are passionate about something will try to inflict it upon us, without any concern for our own feelings. The woman with the jet engines: if she came up to me and began ranting about the virtues of jets, I am sure I would have pushed her away, for it would have felt like being assaulted. But here, it was the reverse. She was reluctant to open up. It took some gentle encouragement, a bit of prodding, and the results were glorious. I was ready for it. I embraced it. I shared in her joy, without sharing in her passion. That, to me, made all the difference. She wasn't asking me to become passionate about what she loved, but instead to just appreciate it. And I did.

Baha'u'llah once said, "I am the royal Falcon on the arm of the Almighty. I unfold the drooping wings of every broken bird and start it on its flight."

This, to me, is a tiny bit of what He was saying.

When I saw this woman open up, it was as if she became alive, after having been dead to her own passion. It was if she was able to fly again.

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