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Spirituality Essay:

Passion    ( February 2010 )

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Last week, the Screen Actors Guild gave their "Lifetime Achievement Award" to Betty White. Eighty-eight years old, and as spry and spunky as others half her age, she credited her deep passion for acting as the primary reason she was so successful and why she was being so honored. She said, "I just love this business of acting. What a thrill it is to be so lucky to be an actor." She added that in the acting gaps of her life, another passion, tirelessly working for animal rights, had equal value.


Such a wonderful thing to have - and to feel. So invigorating, so rewarding ... so making-life-so-alive-and-worth-living! We all have people and interests and things we care about - but when we feel passionately about them, a whole beautiful energy surge and pleasure from deep within comes into being.

What are you passionate about?

Passion is such a special life force. Where there's passion, there's a vibrancy, an electricity ... and a delightful energy and caring that rises out from within us pushing us to deeper connection, meaning, and success. It feels almost instinctive. What we feel passionate about may well change as we grow and mature, but the energy thrust and the deeper caring are gifts that can carry us and give joy and purpose throughout our lives.

Betty White said her passion for acting was what kept her so young, sharp, alive, and happy. I talked with some of our Fellowship's more senior members, who are blessed with that same `aliveness,' and all testified to feeling a sense of passion about something that's carried with them throughout life. For Liz Irwin, 90, it's a love of people and working with them on projects that bettered life; for Ruth Kelsey, 93, it's been a deep caring for politics and working for liberal social values; for Howard Ennes, 92, it's politics, writing, and facilitating social action. All admit that it's kept them feeling young and alive (as their still very productive lives testify). And note too, all shared a desire to `improve the lives of others' as a primary component.

What are you passionate about?

I've talked with a few therapists who say that, generally speaking, feeling passionate about things is a quality that you're born with or develops in early life, arising most likely from one's basic energy level. People that feel passionate about something now probably felt that same way about things when they were 10 ... and 20, and 40.

People who feel passionately: be very grateful. It's a major life blessing. You probably know how it serves you ... how it energizes you, makes life more alive and rich, leads you to greater accomplishments, and softens the inevitable bumps that come with life.

But for those who don't come by those feelings naturally....like most things in life that aren't our `strong suit' - they can be cultivated and developed. Just wanting it is the key thing: just say I want more passion in my life and watch it start happening. Pick something that's already a strong interest to begin with, and let your energy, curiosity, and desire flow into it. And then watch that sweet vibrancy flow into other areas of your life.

Passion is a wonderful part of our natural spirituality - something to ride and enjoy, cultivate and direct ... and be grateful for. Something that makes our just being alive - on this earth, in the here and now - that much more exquisite. What are you passionate about? ... go for it!

This is one in a series of essays on spirituality by Rick Childs, lay leader of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast. You may want to:
Read more Spirituality Essays
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