Monday, February 27, 2017

The Key to the Best Life: Pursue Your God-Given Passion

Passion (noun) 1. a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything
--Random House Dictionary

The secret to life?  Read on….

If you are blessed enough or lucky enough to turn ninety years old, to get to that pinnacle in life and attain “nonagenarian” status, how do you imagine you might celebrate that special day? You could go typical: maybe enjoy a surprise party thrown by your family, cake and greeting cards and balloons and the like. You could go more over the top, like former United States President George H.W. Bush. On his 90th in 2014, he jumped out of a plane and went skydiving, just as he did on his 80th and 85th birthday too.  Or you could do something amazing, like what Swedish conductor and maestro Herbert Blomstedt is doing in 2017, to mark his ninth decade of life on earth.

In twelve months he will travel the globe and conduct more than 90 concerts, with the best symphony orchestras in the world. That’s taxing for any person but for a ninety-something artist? When asked for a recent New York Times article, what the key was to his continued energy and vigor, for still going so strong while most of his contemporaries were either long gone or long ago retired, Blomstedt gave a profound and unexpected answer.

“I love music. How could you deny being together with your loved one?”

He didn’t credit his longevity to a Seventh Day Adventist faith that’s kept him alcohol and tobacco free for life. Didn’t tout some magic exercise regime either, or his genes, or a miraculous diet. Instead Blomstedt attributed his continued engagement in daily life to one simple human trait. Passion. The love of, the love for, some thing, some one, some ideal, some pursuit, some vocation, that gets us out of bed each day and lights us up for daily life. 

And so even though his body no doubt creaks and cracks when he steps up to the podium to conduct, and even though he could just live a life of leisure, with a hot cup of tea and maybe time to listen to some Beethoven on the stereo in a retirement village, Blomstedt has discovered what may be the secret to the best life, to a truly good life, in the deepest sense. To find our one God-given thing in this life to love, really love, and then to give our one life over to it, with passion.  And commitment too. And joy. And fun!  

What’s your passion?

When we seek to live a spiritual life, a life beyond the mere satiation of our sensual desires or our basic instincts, a life that is truly our own, a gift from God, and not dictated by others, this is the question to ask ourselves on a regular basis. What is our passion? What makes our hearts beat faster, our souls soar, and our spirits come alive? Those may among be the most important questions we ask ourselves in our time on this earth, whether it ends up being, nine or nineteen or ninety years, even more.

Passion is always personal, unique, like a fingerprint.  My passion is to write, to put pencil to paper (or nowadays digits to keyboard) and create an idea or an argument or a story or a thought, for my own understanding and others’ too.  Though I get paid to write, I’d happily do it for free, and can’t imagine my life without writing. That’s one way to identify your passion.  What would you do for free, pursue with passion, regardless of the pay, or lack thereof?  Or, if given extra time, free time, how do you spend it, this precious gift?  Maybe you hike or bike or cook or paint or sing or do yoga. Maybe your work brings you passion; you feel called to your job and its never gets old. Maybe you book a flight so you can see your kids or grandkids and family is your passion. 

But trust this.  The One who creates us has placed within each of us a special love, a passion. It must be sought after, and then practiced and then embraced, with everything we’ve got.  You’ve got passion, we all do: thank God. 

So...what’s your passion?  Have fun finding out!


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