This place where you are right now
God circled on a map for you.
Wherever your eyes and arms and heart can move
Against the earth and the sky,
The Beloved has bowed there –
Our Beloved has bowed there knowing
You were coming.
A friend pulled out, moved far off, after 34 yrs. in her home. She never liked living in Florida, she said. And her life was good here. Friends, passions, work she liked. Settling into this neighborhood, now the most desired in St. Pete, property costs rising double digits each year. They stayed in place, put their money into travel rather than moving. And chose their next home well. She feels so lucky they made good choices, she said. I admit a tinge of regret, sometimes feel chagrined looking back at my own choices. Feel I’ve made too many costly mistakes. Held on to shoulds and others’ definitions too long. Understood prudence too late. That I’ve explored rather than built, and haven’t done it all that well.
Hours after I bid farewell to my friend, I saw this clip with Elizabeth Gilbert. EG often proselytizes passion as the key to a happy, purpose-driven life. I understand. I pursue interests with passion. Learn with passion. Passion led me to single-mindedly lobby for a Women’s Center on North Carolina State University’s campus for two years. I promoted French Broad Brewing Company, our microbrewery, with passion. Opened the doors every Saturday, led interactive tours I developed for five years. I immersed in different forms of art-making and created homes with passion. Studied psychology and metaphysics, see patterns and process, love nature and the planet with passion. Years ago I received a poster as a gift, Shakespeare’s Acts of Passion, because the giver saw me that way, in the best sense of the word. It hung in my kitchen, reminded me who I am. A passionate Being. But I never felt the kind of passion Elizabeth Gilbert describes. The kind burning inside for a whole life, since one is small. The kind I’d follow with doggedness to my dying day, forsake all else in its pursuit. Not even writing, which I never tire of talking about or studying. A love for thirteen years after a long fickle relationship. I’ve been a serial passion-follower. A polygamous passion-follower. Some passions connected to presence in a place or culture, such as Hawaii, Italy, New Mexico. Some simmering since childhood, cradling and hugging me without carrying me off, such as nature. I know passion so well that when I don’t feel it, I despair. Think I’ve lost one of my keys to life. I remember times I’ve sat, heart in hands, thinking I must recover my passion. But EG’s passion? No, mine never looked like that.
My path’s been swervy – advertising account manager, manager of school & family programs in an art museum, clay/mixed media artist, small business owner, educator, coach – even here to writer. I sit wondering how far behind in life I am vs. the person who’s cultivated expert status doing what she does for years. I know a lot from my different experiences, see patterns, easily make connections, which makes me good at characterization, at coaching, at understanding multi-layered pictures. But I should’ve been more steady, I think. Stuck with something forever. And then, like a wand upon my head at the moment I stood on the edge of big regret, Elizabeth christened me. She’s a jackhammer, she said. Focused, obsessive, eyes fundamentally steady on her burning, long-consuming passion. And people like me are natural born hummingbirds. We move field to field, follow curiosity (for me, wonder), cross pollinate ideas and perspectives, weave it all in as we go. And I see I’m a passionate hummingbird. A hybrid. My whole being filled to my edges with what catches and engages me.
Years ago I took a half-day workshop with Mary Anne Radmacher, an artist of Big Heart and works. She asked what one word defines where we reside in life. Mine, ‘Create.’ My life choices don’t look better or wiser knowing I’m a passionate hummer. And I don’t agree with EG that it’s easier living this way. I still wish I’d done better. But the christening helps me let go what I can’t undo. Opens space inside me. Gives me ideas how to move forward. I’m creating again. And therein lies my true sacred ground. Some might say my passion. What’s yours?
Curiosity takes courage.
~ Mary Anne Radmacher
Another small journey. Getting to Wise.
A Writer’s Life.
A secret: Sometimes it helps to be named.
A favorite: Ravens