Passion comes in many forms. I’m focused on version of passion that is “boundless enthusiasm”. Looking up enthusiasm in dictionary, I learned it is derived from Greek root entheos, which means inspired by god. Hmmm, boundless inspiration by god! When’s last time you experienced your work or career that way? Not lately? Never? Read on!
As a Boy Scout leader, one skill we teach our scouts is starting and feeding a fire. It’s a pretty simple recipe – tinder, kindling, fuel and a catalyst to get fire started. Tinder has two parts – something easily flammable like cotton, dryer lint or shredded paper and sticks size of pencil lead. Kindling is a little bigger wood – a finger-sized to thumb-sized stick. Fuel is a large chunk of wood. A catalyst is a match or lighter.
You’ve got to lay parts together in a specific way to be successful in getting fire started. You put tinder down first. You lay cotton, lint or paper down first and gently lay pencil-lead sticks on top. Touch your match or lighter to bottom of tinder and watch fire grow. As tinder blazes brightly, add a few pieces of kindling on it. Continue adding kindling until it’s burning hotly. Then add a piece or two of fuel, and when initial fuel logs are burning strongly, add more fuel.
Once your fire is burning, it needs air and more fuel to continue burning brightly and hotly. If you don’t tend to your fire’s needs, it will cool off and go out.
Just as a fire can dwindle if it’s not tended, you passion can dwindle too if it’s not tended. You may listen to your parents, family or friends who talk you out of a career that won’t pay enough money or provide you enough security. You grow numb about what inspires you by buying things, getting in debt and having to work just to pay your bills – you know, “I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go.” Or you eat or drink too much or take drugs to take edge off emptiness you feel for not doing what you love. It’s like starting tinder but not putting any kindling or fuel on it.
Anthony Farmer, in his essay in A Guide to Getting It: Purpose and Passion, describes passion “as a fire that can never be truly put out… a fire that never dies that will blaze again at will of its owner.” “Without passion you cut off vitality to our heart, your spirit and to your life.”