Friday, August 06, 2010

Feeding a Passion

Occasionally, in a workshop or a meeting or reading some article somewhere, I'll come across the idea of a "passion." "What is your passion," a presenter may ask. Or a writer might espouse the beauty of her passion in the pages of the latest glossy magazine. I used to think that I didn't have a "passion." I used to think that there were plenty of things I was interested in, but nothing that I was totally crazy about. But, I have since changed my thinking. I realized that, from an early age there were many things that I could potentially point to as a passion. And, the more I thought about it, the longer the list became. I further refined my thinking, realizing that I was listing things that I was merely interested in, such as 19th century American history, rather than those things that were significant enough to my life that I might seriously regret their loss.

Interestingly, as much as I love reading and writing, they didn't make the cut. Don't get me wrong: I love literature. I love writing. But they are somehow not a part of this conversation. Obviously, those things are big parts of who I am as a teacher and as a person. They might even be passions of some sort. But, I have chosen to focus on less obvious parts of me.

I guess I have three things that I might call "passions." Each of them is a thing that I find important to my life in various degrees. Each of them is a thing that I could not do without. The first is food. I am not an amateur gourmet, but I do love to cook. I am not a gourmand, but I do love to eat. I do not have a sensitive palate, but I truly appreciate a splendid meal. I am passionate about food. I grow it. I cook it. I eat it. I appreciate and love it in all of its varieties. I love a well prepared and condimented hot dog just as much as a perfectly prepared and presented filet mignon. I will try anything, in the way of food, no matter how odd it might seem. I read Bon Apetit and Food and Wine. I regret the demise of Gourmet. I eat and talk about food with some of my friends, a lot. So, yes, food is a passion.

My second passion is nature. General, I know, but that is because I couldn't pare this category down from the many possible sub-sets that I had to choose from: hiking, fishing, birding, nature reading, botany, entomology, etc. I have always, since I was a young boy, loved to be outdoors. I especially loved being on the water (which, as many of you know, is an ironic aspect of my personality, since I get sea sick). My first major was biology. I was going to concentrate on marine biology, at first, until I discovered entomology. Of course, then I hit the big brick wall known as organic chemistry, which derailed my scientific ambitions completely. At any rate, I still enjoy a walk in the woods. I am still fascinated by insects and fish. I still have breath-taking moments on new and old trails. I am or have been a member of National Audubon Society, World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy, the Ocean Conservancy. I am passionate about nature.

Lastly, I am passionate about music. Regular readers know that I write about music quite a bit. I see bands when I can (not as often as I used to), I buy new music I have never heard before regularly (but not as often as I used to), I read about music, and I play music. My first instrument was the drums. Once I moved from my parent's house, however, I had no place for my kit. I sold it. I haven't played since. About four years ago, I bought a guitar and taught myself how to play it. I am still not great shakes, but I can play a dozen chords or so. Recently, I began teaching myself how to play with a slide (it's not as easy as it looks).

This summer, in my quest to keep my brain fresh and my self less complacent, I bought a trumpet. I plan on taking lessons, eventually, since I don't think a trumpet is as easy to self-teach as a guitar, but I don't know when I will start. My plan was to begin this summer, but, since I am back to workshops and meetings already, summer is over. For now, I just content myself practicing the tight-lipped blowing into the mouth piece, trying to make just that one basic sound as pure as possible (again, not so easy). But, musically, I will continue to challenge myself. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but, in a couple of years, I think the violin will be next.


AMVB said...

I'm very impressed with all the soulful things you're doing for yourself lately. These passions all sound true and good. Dive in and enjoy!



Sheryl said...

Yet again, I am inspired to dig a little deeper than I thought I wanted to. :) Well done.