Monday, June 25, 2007

Passion for June 25, 2007

Someone said something to me the other day that sort of struck home with me. I carried that comment around with me for a few days as I mulled it over and over. Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore and just knew I had to blog it….

The comment was….You are always bragging about your friends and how talented they are. Do you feel like you are better than you are because you hang around with people like that? Or do you just pump your friends up to be more than they are?

The comment hit me sort of sideways at the time and I simply let it go. For one thing I didn’t feel like getting into the argument I knew the person was looking for but more than that, I knew that no matter what I said I also knew that this person was NEVER going to understand my answer. I actually felt kind of bad for not saying anything…but whatever.
So my answer is actually that I brag about my friends because each and every one of them has something worthy of bragging about. They span the spectrum of skills and abilities from the obvious to the obscure but each and every one of my friends has a unique and amazing skill or talent. I do not overstate their fantasticness, They rock, EOD.

The rest of the question is somewhat more complex and can not be understood if I were to simply answer without explaining. The answer simply is yes, I do feel like I am better than I am because of the people I hang around with. I DO get something from them but it is not what you might think.

Let’s start with how/why these people become people I want to be my friends. First of all it is not the talent/skill/whatever that draws me to them. It is what is BEHIND that which intrigues me. You see all my friends draw their talents and skills from the same pool. The end results are widely varied. What is it that all these people from so many different walks of life have in common to make them all so special to me? The pool they draw from is passion. Every single one of my friends is special because they draw their skill from something that they feel passionately about.

What? Passion? I don’t get it. Why is that interesting? Isn’t everyone passionate about something?

No, not at all. I would guess that probably most people feel strongly about SOMETHING or other but I am talking about passion here. There is a huge difference. When I am talking about passion, I am talking about the kind of people who when they talk about something, their whole BEING lights up. That is what draws me to them. People who not only HAVE but EMBRACE that kind of passion have a special gift. Their ability to feel that kind of passion translates to everything that they do and everything around them. They know the joy of doing/feeling/living that which inspires passion in them and that makes them a unique personality.

Let me give an example. For instance, I have worked with many engineers over my lifetime and to be honest most of them are pretty skilled. I mean you sort of have to have some kind of skill in that field. You spend years in college working on it, honing the skills in your jobs, and just repetition itself. They don’t really impress me. The engineer who really does impress me is my friend Rick. He was describing a new machine to me one day. It was something we were about to start work on and he was finalizing the concept. As he described it to me his whole face lit up, his body became more animated, and he described it in glowing terms. He sensed at one point that I was grinning at him. He stopped mid-description and smiled sort of bashfully. “What?” He asked, “I can’t help getting excited, isn’t it sexy?” I had to agree that it was. Seriously you can not BUY that kind of enthusiasm. You have to feel it and it can not be faked. Sexy indeed. Don’t get me wrong I am not talking about the desire to toss him down and have my way with him, far from it, I am talking about the overall appeal of it. They get excited about something and by association you can not help but get excited by it too. I am not surprised that one of my all time favorite jobs was working for Rick…the entire job was fun, exciting, challenging, and face it, sexy. It was not without its challenges, it did have days that just plain sucked, and it ended badly when we got bought and closed but I still can’t deny it was one of my favorites still simply because of Rick. He not only was LIKE that himself, he tended to hire people who were like that as well. You can enjoy your job or whatever it is that you do but those who feel passionate about what they do take it to a whole other level.

The same thing I have noticed applies to non-friend things as well. I find myself drawn more to music when the musician is passionate, more able to relate to the movie of the actor who does it because they love it, and so on regardless of how “mainstream popular” they are. I think this is why you will find me more likely to show up at certain concerts than others. It is not JUST that I am cheap, it is because you are more likely to find the truly passionate folks there. I mean you really have to love what you do in order to deal with doing it for very little financial reward so generally those who are looking to make it big won’t hang around long. Likewise I have seen some very talented and passionate folks LOSE that passion once the thing becomes a “job”. I knew some fantastic musicians who became famous only to find that suddenly when everyone begins to put demands on you and tell you how to do it, it loses its appeal very quickly and they lost that passion that made them special. Oddly enough some of them dropped out and got “day jobs” for a while only to find that they quickly re-found that passion. I believe this is what drives the “comebacks” in some cases and I know in some cases it is what keeps them doing the “small stuff” and careful to avoid getting so big and out of control again.

Lest you think that this is limited to JOB skills let be quickly stop that thought. In some cases this could not be further from the truth. The discussion has come up around here more than once about stay at home mom’s and their “value”. I have several friends who chose to be stay at home moms because they felt passionately about it. In some cases these are highly educated and highly skilled women who gave it all up to stay home and raise their kids. Someone once made the mistake to call that a “Waste” in front of me. I disagreed almost violently. Why? Because doing what you feel passionate about is NEVER a waste. These women would have been sad, frustrated, and unhappy to have someone else raise their kids while they “worked” out side the home and THAT would have translated at home. Instead by doing what they felt strongly about they BRING that passion to the lives of their spouses and kids. These “non-working” friends of mine have a gift and a skill to be fantastic homemakers simply because they are passionate about it. Likewise someone who did not WANT to stay home and care for their kids and felt strongly that they SHOULD be working outside the home SHOULD DO SO because to deny that passion is wrong.

The same is true about many others of my friends and in many cases it is not the OBVIOUS thing either. I have who is a very talented singer. She has a passion that drives her and that passion is what draws me to her. It is NOT singing. What drives her is a desire to honor a legacy. Her uncle was a quite famous musician. He taught her everything he knew before he died far too young. She feels strongly that it was meant to be that he should teach her these things before he died so that she could fulfill HIS destiny. She honors this with a passion that colors her life that translates into her singing but it is NOT the singing itself.

The passions vary as widely as the friends do. God, lovers, nature, acting, playing, home, travel, kids, family, politics, art, music, writing, business, science, and work are just a few and there are many others.

Each and every person who touches me in a way that causes me to want to be their friend has some kind of a passion that drives them. They have a certain kind of “Joie de Vivre” that flows around them that comes simply from this one passion… no matter what that passion is.
I said before I DO get something from that but what. Is it importance through association? Is it the “talking” value of friends in “high places”? What exactly do I get from that? That is simple. I get the joy from being around the glow of happiness that flows off such people. I enjoy being surrounded by happy people and people who feel that kind of passion and live it are happy people. This does not mean that they don’t have sad days, blue moods, or moments of unhappiness or anger; it just means that more often than not they are prone to happiness and I like that.

Take a good look around you. Those of you here that I call my friends are all passionate about something and it makes you happy people. So is the guy next to you, the one commenting before or after you, and the one who isn’t commenting because they don’t feel it applies to THEM. You can feel it, it surrounds you and make this a very happy place even when it’s sad.

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