When I was in college, one of my good friends was getting her degree in journalism. I remember her feeling a bit lackluster about it. It was just a degree because she didn’t know a better degree to get. Then her last semester of her senior year, she took a course on photojournalism. Suddenly she discovered she loved photography. Now I had seen the photos she snapped of all of us hanging out in the dorms, and they were nothing special. But when she became passionate about photojournalism, she developed this amazing eye for composition, for capturing people, for moving those who saw her photos. Now she’s a war photographer in Afghanistan and has won the White House Photographer of the Year award four different times.
You never know when you’re going to discover something you’re passionate about. Richard Adams didn’t begin writing his first novel Watership Down until he was nearly 50. Grandma Moses was in her seventies when she took up painting.
The things we do purely for ourselves, the things that bring us deep satisfaction and joy, the things we discover we want to do even if nobody makes us, those are our passions.
Writing was a passion I was surprised to discover. I wrote as a kid, but I wasn’t passionate about it. I was a rabid reader and have always devoured books. When I was out of college and teaching elementary school, I decided to try to write some stories in the afternoons and evenings. This was something purely for fun. I had no ambition of getting published. I found myself eager to get back to my stories. I’d write every day for hours because I felt a deep joy inside by the sheer act of creating stories. Still do.
We need to find opportunities to discover our passions. That can come from trying something new and interesting like taking a cooking class, picking up a new instrument, buying some paint and a canvas one Saturday afternoon, joining a sports team. It should be something we want to do and not something someone is making us do. Do you think Mozart or Jerry Lee Lewis’s parents had to force them to go practice piano? Not a chance. Think they were musicians just to make a buck (or a gulden in the case of Mozart)? No way.
Kids and adults need free time to explore new interests. Make this summer vacation a time to discover and develop your passions.