Keeping the Passion

by Sona Klimowicz

Have you ever looked up all of the various causes or remembrances that have particular days or months dedicated to them? I found 43 different things that are remembered in June, 41 for July, (not counting holidays like July 4th or Father’s Day) and there are probably others that I missed. As Americans, we are famous for attaching a cause to a month or a day. Some of them are fun and light hearted (National Smile Month which straddles May and June) and some more serious (National Hunger Awareness Month). But each of these remembered events have something in common: they have a dedicated following, people who thought the idea valuable enough to do something about it, who championed it, and made it an “official” remembrance, either by lobbying the government to assign a day or month, or by choosing to go out on a limb and do it themselves.

There is a common connecting thread among this eclectic collection of remembrances: passion.  Someone, or a group, held enough passion for the idea to step out and do something about it. They wanted to make a difference in some way, to draw attention to something important, to inspire, to connect, to help, to challenge and to facilitate change. Passion is a wonderful gift that inspires and motivates; it changes perceptions and lives; it gives purpose, meaning and joy. Passion benefits the one who holds it and the one who receives it; it allows us to do our best work, to feel deeply about the causes we cherish and to care.  It builds resilience, and helps sustain people during difficult times. As Americans, we do care, as evidenced by the 25% of the population that engages in volunteer activities on a regular basis, regardless of how the economy is doing.

Many years ago, I had the honor of working with a very dedicated, single mother who was overwhelmed by her daughter’s needs. Despite the challenges and her exhaustion, that mother worked hard to provide financially for her and her daughter. She felt buried by the depth of responsibility she was carrying, and could barely see hope for the future. In the midst of this, I asked her what her personal passion was, what made her heart sing. At first, she was somewhat taken aback, almost offended by what seemed to be a light question. But she thought for a moment, and told me that she loved art.  

As a child and as a young adult, she loved to draw and paint, and was very talented. She also admitted that she had not thought about her art in a long time, feeling that she did not have the right, the energy or the time. We talked about it for a while, and I could see a spark light up in her eyes. The last time I saw her, she thanked me for helping her to reignite her passion. Her daughter still had needs and she still worked hard, but her passion was once again alive, giving her some much needed hope and strength. This courageous mother made a lasting impression on me. It is a wonderful example of how we let our passions fade, but when we choose to keep them alive, they shine brightly in our lives, helping to light our paths.

Over the years, I have found myself being pulled into many different causes; my mailbox is often filled with requests for financial support, or asking me to call my representative to show support for a cause. Some of them I attend to, and others I discard. And then I find myself starting to feel guilty if I don’t support each and every one. But the truth is that I am not passionate about them all; there are some that I do not care about.  There – I said it. There are some that I do not care about. And in my opinion, we do not have to care about them all. Someone does, and as long as it does no harm, we should support their right to do so, to find their own passion, to stand up for what they believe in. It provides for a wonderfully rich canvas on which to build our individual and collective lives.

What about you? What makes your heart sing? What do you feel passionate about? Who do you share it with? If you cannot answer these questions, I challenge you to find something that makes your heart sing and your eyes sparkle, and then to find someone with whom you can share it, so that they too can feel their heart sing, and maybe for the first time in a long time, experience passion and hope.

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