My Grandfather found passion on a frozen lake in northern Minnesota.
Yes, I’m the spawn of proud fishermen much like the characters portrayed by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in the movie Grumpy Old Men.
Grandpa devoted the final 18 years of life to his passion for fishing. He’d head out at dawn and spend summer days tricking fish into his boat. When winter came, he’d buy an old car and drive across the ice for long quiet days pulling fish through the holes drilled beneath his ice fishing shack. When the ice thinned and his fifty dollar car broke through and sunk to the bottom of the lake, Grandpa calmly walked back to shore with a stringer of fish and a passionate grin pasted on his face.
Just to be clear, Grandpa lived in a simpler time when disposing of junk cars beneath a lake made for a great fish hatchery and was not considered gross negligence worthy of a hefty fine. And of course, as Ann Margaret was not my real Grandmother, Grandpa’s grin was genuinely all about fishing.
Hollywood limited the narrative in Grumpy Old Men to physical passion—but passion is meant to mature beyond lust, sports cars, fishing or building birdhouses in the garage. Finding true passion can be tricky given all the shiny objects in our world, but when you find it you’ll feel it! Unfortunately, millions settle down for the dirt nap with regret, having failed to identify or act on their passion.
We plan for an elusive moment when responsibilities ease and life is clear of mortgages, careers or kids freeing us to indulge in passion. Retirement planning is a lucrative industry that may shepherd the cash we manage to squirrel away, (passion and cash have a complicated relationship), however few people invest in a strategy for living passionately everyday.
In the United States, the average time spent in retirement is ten years for men and sixteen years for women. Not much time to spend dithering about what you might be passionate about. If you’re feeling a bit uneasy reading this—good! Passion is best practiced throughout a lifetime, not left until the table is set perfectly.
Passion can be defined as an intense emotion or a compelling enthusiasm or desire for something or someone.
Passion Deficit Quotient (PDQ) symptoms include (but are not limited to):
In extreme cases, PDQ sufferers have been known to assemble a Lazy-boy fortress in front of the television stocked with supplies and armed with an array of remote controls. Remember people: Raging at television news or bickering politicians is not passion—it’s just impotent anger.
The most common manifestation of PDQ is lethargy. Countless individuals report, “I just don’t care about anything.”
Remember the intensity of adolescence and experiencing a hormonal teen-age body or a first romance and recall how out of control it all felt. In our efforts to mature, we may have over-compensated and un-wittingly caused a wide range of intense emotions to slip like sand through our fingers.
Intense emotion suggests more than a casual interest or preoccupation. In western culture, adults are conditioned to behave appropriately, resist impulse and be responsible in the throes of emotion. However, this cultural “governor” deadens passion over time, which forms a callous on the heart.
Is it time to quit fussing with your feet and apply the pumice stone to your heart?
Passion is inconvenient, messy and spontaneous. Yet life without passion makes for a grim existence. Passion can also be beautiful and transformative. Passion will wake you up at 5 o’clock in the morning eager to get on with the day and can reveal levels of creativity and intense feelings you never imagined possible.
In a world plagued by hunger, anger and fear we can’t afford the luxury of ambivalence or hopelessness. Social innovation throughout history has always been stewarded by passionate men and women. In other words, it has been fueled by ordinary people driven by passion. Granted, passion comes in many flavors and not everyone has the resolve to tinker with the world—but we all leave footprints. Grandpa left fish hatcheries across northern Minnesota.
If we learn to leave passionate footprints throughout our lives, we’ll be happier in general and leave lethargy behind in the dust.
Risk! Dig under “someday I will…” The only roadblock in the way of living passionately today is the one you argue for.
Author: Snake Bloomstrand
Editor: Alli Sarazen