“If you really want to fly, just harness your power to your passion. Honor your calling. Everybody has one.” –Oprah Winfrey
Shut up Oprah, no they don’t. Everybody gets it already. We’ve all had the “follow your dreams” mantra drilled into our heads by various inspirational figures for the past couple decades. Nobody ever says “Life is short, and you owe it to yourself to spend the majority of it giving yourself wholly and completely to something you absolutely hate.”
Two years ago, I was hiking up Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand when I was stricken with a bout of food poisoning. I had consumed some bad fish and chips the previous night or something. My first hint was a sudden tightening sensation in my lower abdomen. A squeeze and some pressure. I took a few deep breaths, and it subsided.
Several minutes later, it came back. This time it was a sharp twisting, like someone was trying to wring out my large intestine like a wet washcloth. My face turned white and I broke out in a cold sweat.
I recalled what our tour guide had said to us in the morning. Please be sure to use the bathrooms before the hike. Anything left on the glacier will be frozen there forever.
Can’t…desecrate…pristine…glacier. I rested my palms on my knees with bated breath. The twisting relaxed, and I could continue.
Of course, it was only a matter of minutes before it returned with a vengeance. An invisible hand drove a seppuku blade deep into my gut, turning it in like a corkscrew and bringing me to my knees. We had 2 hours left on the hike, and for the first time in my life, I prayed.
That’s what it feels like to have a passion. Nobody needs to be told to follow it. Working full time on anything other than that passion is like trying to hold in an explosive hot dump. Pursuing a passion is an act of relief, not work.
Problem is, most people don’t think they have a passion. How can you recognize passion if you’ve never felt agony?
Passion does not spring forth from an immaculate conception. It requires a life of exploration and misery and setbacks until you have something to express. That takes work. So get out there and gorge yourself.