• Cecil Lewis Jr.

What Is Your Passion?

Updated: Jan 3

Since I began writing my blog, on several occasions I meet people while I am out around town that let me know they enjoy reading my blog or tell me they liked a particular post topic. This is always very pleasing to me. When I receive these kind words, I often think to myself; “wow, somebody actually read something I wrote and moreover they even liked it”.

In a recent blog post “The Guitar Messiah”, I shared the story of Mick who has built a business around one of his passions. In the blog, I wrote about the topic of a person’s passion. I point out that in researching this topic that many people do not have “passions” in their lives. For the days and weeks that have followed since this post, I received more comments on this topic than any other I have written. The comments often turned into conversations about the notion of a personal passion.

Many of the conversations went something like this; Cecil! “I don’t have a passion”, “what exactly is a passion”, “I can’t find my passion”. Hence, I thought it might be worthwhile exploring this topic a little bit more.

In these conversations, I often said, “I have learned that many people do not have a personal passion and I think that it is okay”. In trying to help them determine what their passion might be, I would ask, “what are some of the things that you really enjoy doing in your life, what are the things you think about often and the things you look forward to doing”? Well, that question resulted in some interesting answers. Let me just say, that sex could possibly be something that is passionate, but it is probably not what I would classify as a personal passion. Furthermore, watching “Medical Detectives” is definitely not a personal passion. These answers are examples of things that one enjoys. (for my American friends, “Medical Detectives is the American T.V. show called “Forensic Files” overdubbed in German and with German narration)

Definitely, not a passion.

In an effort to determine what one’s passion is, I suppose we must first define what is a personal passion. As I researched this topic it seems that a personal passion is often confused with a hobby or something we like doing. I thought it would be easiest to break this down into 3 categories; Pleasures, Hobbies, and Passions.

Pleasures: A pleasure would be the things you do in life that you simply enjoy. The things that bring you happiness, peace or joy.

Pleasure Examples:

  • Reading a book, going to the movies, spending time with friends or family, exercising, attending sports events, dining out, traveling, going dancing, cooking and yes this is where you could list sex and watching Medical Detectives.

(I suppose you could actually do both of these at the same time = utopia)

Hobbies: I found this definition on dictionary.com; “a hobby is an activity or interest that is pursued for pleasure or relaxation and outside of one’s occupation (job)”. When I thought about what I would classify as hobbies, most of the things I came up with were related to a person’s talent, sporting activity or unique interest in something.

Hobby Examples:

  • Knitting, painting, photography, golf, skiing, hiking, restoring cars (my Dad's hobby), or stamp collecting

Passions: I actually had to do a bit of research to be able to clearly define what is a personal passion that separates it from pleasures or hobbies to help me define this for you.

A passion is something that is powerful. Passions are things that you are willing to invest and sacrifice your time for, spend money on and exert your energy on; often with little or no return on your investment. And what is even more amazing about this, is you don’t even care. The pursuit of a passion is often bought with pain in exchange for your personal pleasure and satisfaction.

Passion Examples:

  • The obvious ones are typically related to one’s talents; musicians, artists, writers, actors, dancers.

  • The less obvious ones might be; carpenters, architects, entrepreneurs, chefs, and family.

Let’s focus on the passions. I think many people feel that their passion must be wrapped around an artistic talent or special gift that one has. My Mom's passion was making quilts. She would work for hours, weeks and even months in creating a single quilt. I estimate she made well over 50 in her lifetime. She would not sell her quilts, she gave them to special people in her life and to the people she loved. So, I agree that oftentimes a passion is related to special gifts or talents, but I also think that your passion can be your job or people/things in your life.

One of my Mother's quilts.

I have a couple of musician friends who are architects. I would assume that the premise of designing something on a piece of paper or on a computer system and then watching it take the form of a building that will be on this earth for possibly hundreds of years must be driven by passion. I have a friend who is a builder. The premise of taking pieces of wood or brick and assembling them to create a home or modify a structure must be driven by passion.

I know several chefs in my little town (Tobi, Dominic, Roman), these people must have a passion for taking ingredients from the earth and creating flavorful creations that delight the taste buds of their customers. Hours of thought, training, and prep go into their creations. Entrepreneurs also must be driven by passion as they are willing to spend countless hours in pursuit of building a successful business, that comes with great financial risk and investment.

Tobi's book. I have my very own autographed copy.

You will note if you apply the criteria in my definition of a passion to the less obvious examples, they clearly meet the criteria of a passion. As these are things you sacrifice your time for, spend money on, exert your energy on, things you find yourself spending your time thinking about and the kind of things that keep you awake at night.

And yes, I included family in my example of a passion. This came up in a discussion with a friend. Her response to what was her passion was “family and the people she cares about”. I first thought no this cannot be a passion. It might be something you are passionate about, but not a passion. But then I applied the criteria for a passion and family met the criteria. These relationships are something you spend and invest time in, these people are ever-present in your mind and we are willing to sacrifice time, money and energy in support of these people we love.

Most of you who know me or read my blog should be pretty clear on what my passions are. Music, writing, and family are my passions and I often write about these things. I still envy those of you, like Mick the “Guitar Messiah”, the architects, the builder and the chefs who are able to enjoy your passion in combination with your work. Although, I am pretty sure, and I have accepted that my passions will likely never be entwined with my job or be able to support my living.

I would love to write books (I have a lot of good stories rolling around in my head), but I am not sure if they would sell (perhaps my Dad and few friends would buy them) and I definitely know it is hard to make money as a musician. Just as an example, recently last week my band had a gig. I arrived for load-in and soundcheck at 5:00 p.m. I walked home around 1:00 a.m. after performing for 3 hours and the next day, I had to meet the band members to carry the equipment to the practice room. The cumulative value of the equipment the band used on this night is easily in the €20,000 range and each band member took home €30, a meal, and a few drinks. Now, that is passion! (or insanity, but let’s go with passion). (actually, that may have been a good name for our band, “The Passions”)

So, what is your personal passion? Take some time to think about it, I am pretty sure you will find it. And you know what? If you don’t find it, it’s okay! I urge you to enjoy, explore and pursue the things that you love and you will find your passion and in the process, at the very least you will find some happiness.

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