I don't know what age it starts to happen.
I'm sure it's different for everyone.
And probably happens many times over the course of a lifetime.
But it's that point where you find yourself going round and round, over and over, again and again wondering how you'll differentiate this day from the next. Even if the purpose behind the mundane rituals and routines makes sense, the conflict emerges when your being is tired of making the same concessions.
I remember first experiencing this feeling when I was 21...working in downtown Chicago at a prestigious public relations firm. It was a fantastic internship on paper with great opportunity for full-time employment post college and upwardly mobile connections to people in a city that I longed to live in for sometime. The problem, I suppose was that the work was boring as hell and so one day, I told my supervisor that I wanted to write and not just to assemble media packets...to which she very kindly said, "sorry...that's not part of the job." It was eye-opening. Because there were other really wonderful ancillary perks like tickets to sporting events, hobnobbing with industry gurus and of course having nice lunches and Starbucks coffee while in a suit. But, at the end of the day, it was not full-filling. And so, I counted my blessings to have the resume filler, but I knew that I wasn't passionate about the "work."
I felt disillusioned, but I suppose my idealistic philosophy-degreed self was optimistic and so I carried on...searching this time for passion in places that weren't connected to my employment. Sometimes, I found it in really good friendships, intimate relationships, poetry, prose, my graduate program and eventually in marriage and motherhood.
But every self-help book will tell you that now more than in any period in the history of both marriage and parenthood, we require more of our unions than was ever expected before. We yearn for economic security, an intellectual equal, amazing hot monkey sex, safety and the promise that our partner will always be the only one to truly know us and to make us happy. Simultaneously, we want a family. Children that different than even one generation ago, we will know fully and completely. That we will be unconditionally devoted to and present for every step of the way.
And all of this coupled with organic, yoga filled, cross-fit crazed healthy living, continuous volunteering in the community and care for our parents who are living longer makes the concept of wanting to have passion in your life...well, just another thing and a frivolous one to tend at that.
But when you check your social media feeds, the posts that generate the greatest amount of traffic and volume of popularity skew towards the inspirational. The quotes like this one from the late Nelson Mandela...
"There is no passion to be found playing small-
in settling for a life that is less than the one
you are capable of living."
And that is because whether you are 21, 35, 60 or 90...you want to feel something beyond responsibility, obligation, duty and the like. You want to viscerally feel alive. You want to know that you're living your purpose and that the opportunity to recourse or engage in something that makes you feel not only needed but that you desperately desire is possible.
This is passion. It's just that it's hard to jive it with the mundane...but if you're able for a split second or a brief window to grab it, harness it and fly with it...well, you feel like all of the rest is doable.
The question is...how do you grab a hold of passion and still keep the bills paid, the family needs attended to and the world happy with what you've given?
I think this is a question that I profoundly knew 20 some years ago and over time did what we all do which is to settle for the good of the cause until somewhere between the peanut butter sandwiches and the laundry, I started to yearn for the visceral feeling again.
Vincent Van Gogh said that he would rather die of passion than of boredom. While Albert Einstein said that he had no special talents only to be passionately curious about the world around him.
And so maybe that is the key, to recognize that life is filled with seasons...cycles of mundane, boredom and obligation that turn our hearts toward longing and ask us to ask ourselves, what am I curious about and how can I make space for the exploration in my daily routines...because the truth is a life lived without passion really is as Mandela said, no life at all.