Saturday, October 24, 2009

Following your passion

Mike Rowe, the Dirty Jobs guy, addresses the issue of following your passion in a wide-ranging talk. Money quote: "Follow your passion? Worst advice I ever got." ( )

I'm not sure that Mr. Rowe is making the correct conclusion about success and passion. Sounds like the passion of the pig farmer who lives in Vegas making a great living feeding his pigs the casino food waste is perhaps making a comfortable living, and he found a clever way to do it (perhaps finding the clever way to best the system is his passion.)

I think defining passion is a tricky business. A passion doesn't have to be playing the violin. Some peoples' passion is simply to be useful--and beyond that they may or may not have creative impulses. When we talk about helping our children to follow their passion, we are not suggesting they become marginal to society and seek out the obscure, rather that they grow into their own skin, that they own themselves, that they are able to define with clarity what their place in the world is.

There are leaders and there are followers, there are pacifists and fighters, there are those who make music and those who enjoy others making music. It takes all to make a world, and if we make that world through a higher consciousness the outcome should be not a happy joy fest, but a richer fuller existence for all.

And finally, this is a life long process. Passions are not all formed by birth; as we grow and change, our passions may grow and change. As parents it is our job to keep holding space for our children to explore that with consciousness. As humans it is our responsibility to hold space for ourselves and everyone else in the same way, suspending judgment and being fully present now.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Taking a bigger perspective

There is a great gentleness which comes into play when we connect with the present moment, a sense of being nurtured. What is it to feel nurtured? The feeling of being held with unconditional love without judgement. When we step into the center of the circle of the present moment through meditation, yoga, or even simple mindfulness that circle holds us in a nurturing embrace. That is why when we take time to practice or be mindful we feel so much clearer and so much more able to love ourselves and the world. Then we are in a position to meet each challenge as a teaching moment.

Being mindful towards each moment transforms our experiences from a series of events (to be qualified and sorted into good, bad, memorable, difficult) into a flowing of life. Then it is as if we stand in the middle of a stream which flows around us. We still notice how events make us feel. In this we recognize our humanity -- our vulnerability helps our compassion grow and being in a place of allowing, keeps us grounded in the stream.

Thus our task is to be in the stream and stay alive to its movements, not to let our eyes glaze over. And when we glaze over, and for a span of time we go to sleep, then we must be aware enough to wake ourselves up. Or else the universe will do it for us with a challenge or "accident". We must keep pinching ourselves to stay awake to be truly alive.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Many "new age" gurus talk about finding joy, or bliss in each moment. But they also speak of being truly aware of all of our emotions. I used to wonder how one can be in bliss in a moment of anger or sorrow because anger and sorrow are as much human emotions as joy.

What I begin to understand is that each of us can find the joy in each moment. But joy doesn't necessarily mean happiness, as in a warm fuzzy feeling, but rather a sense of wonder and being alive for all that is right now even in a moment of sadness or anger--to be able to notice all of it. And within that dwells the wonder that, "I am here to witness this" whatever "this" may be. That is joy.