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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Power of Passion

You might not even know me, but I'm wishing you a Valentine's Day full of passion. In fact, I wish you passion in every day. It doesn't matter how old you are, what you look like, whether you're married or single, surrounded by friends or a loner. You can have it. But do you really know what "passion" means? The most familiar definition brings to mind a hot date, but look it up in the dictionary. You might be surprised by the others.

In some dictionaries the first definition listed refers to the Passion of Christ, or suffering. It can also mean anger, the feeling of being acted upon by outside forces, or intense, violent, overmastering emotion, or emotion distinguished from reason. You won't find wishes for any of those things expressed in a Hallmark card.

What I'm wishing for you, (in addition to the hot date, especially if it's your spouse) is passion described as love of the most intense kind, ardent affection, fervor, unbridled devotion, an overwhelming desire for, or interest in, an object, activity or idea. I mean the kind of passion that drives a person to practice a musical instrument, develop a recipe, work in a lab to find a cure for a disease, rescue animals, grow the perfect rose, volunteer at a clinic, stand in a cold river casting a hand-tied fly, race sailboats or canoes, teach children to read, stitch a quilt, or write. I have many passions and can't even imagine my life without them. They make me who I am.

I know so many people in Tacoma living their lives with passion, and they share it gladly. Hear and feel the passion in Lance Buller's music when he blows those jazz notes through his horn. Taste it in the organic produce Valerie Foster and her daughter Holly grow at Zestful Gardens. See it in the glint of curved glass that comes out of Mike Malovich's workshop at Oak Brothers Antiques. When he isn't playing music, guitarist Neil Andersson creates oil paintings that transport your mind and soul to a more peaceful place. Chef Bill Trudnowski brings passion to preparing exquisite meals at his restaurant, the Adriatic Grill. Meet Stella Jones, Ph.D., whose passion to help others means people who would otherwise be homeless can find safe housing, through Shared Housing Services. There are so many others I could list.

My friend Andy Anderson, a local historian, is meticulously piecing together an historic map of the South Sound region from about 25 other maps, just for his own use and enjoyment. That takes passion. Another friend of mine, an immigrant, is finishing up her education to become a teacher, after a long, hard struggle. It's passion that got her this far and when she talks about how much she loves working with children I see and hear it in her face and voice. I also have a friend who donates her time and skills as a medical professional, because she believes in giving. People like these bring us new technologies, the world of the arts, books to read, public gardens, education, better approaches to medicine, and more. They inspire us and improve our quality of life.

What's your passion? Mountain climbing? Designing bridges? Microbiology? Growing a garden? Saving a patient or a person in a burning building? Whatever it is I hope this Valentine's Day reminds you to celebrate your good fortune in having something you love to do, something that drives you to be your best. Without it, we fail to reach our full potential as human beings. It is the spark of the divine in each of us. So if you have it, enjoy it. If you don't, find something, anything, you truly love to do, something that makes you eager to get out of bed every morning. Don't just sit there. Live your life with passion.

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