Imagine someone asking you, “How can I find my passion?” as though you have the answer to a question that is already living and breathing within the questioner? I hope that you would just smile at the person and kindly say, “I wish.”
You do not find passion, it finds you. You are presently unable to articulate it but that’s what makes it a passion. Passion is an energy and force that stirs, reoccurs and slowly simmers until attention is paid to it. Passion will be paid. To ignore passion is a greater price to pay than to name it. To begin to identify passion is to begin to toy with it as a cat does a cloth mouse. “How does it feel?” “It is real?” “How can I know that it’s real unless I play with it a while?” And play as cats do, so I did.
Circa 1964, a pretend radio show in my bedroom surrounded by pictures on my walls of TV shows of that time. Pretend microphone, pretend audience, pretend music talking to my walls for sixty minutes faithfully for two years until high school begins. A string connected to a stick with a golf ball at its tip may have caused other parents to seek support or at least a depressing drug to depress this lonely, bedroom-ridden son.
Weekly Catholic Masses promptly began at 11:00 a.m. in 1962 because I just returned from the “real” Mass but now needed to do it myself. Plastic vestments, a dictionary for the Bible and the church bulletin for my homily – I made my way through this weekly ritual that no one was allowed to observe. (I even clicked a nonworking light button to summon my imaginary congregation.) Drugs anyone or passion?
I hung around the local radio station and got to know the radio announcers. The manager said, “I don’t hire part time employees.” Circa 1969, junior in high school. He hires me for Saturdays, 6:30 p.m.-Midnight and Sundays, 6:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. My passion and I are finally communicating.
Sleepless nights is a clue. Unlikely associations of your passion to something entirely different else is another. Preoccupied with these thoughts, yet another. Carefully taking to people of about your suspicious passion was a risk when they confused the words “cemetery” for “seminary.”
Circa 1972. “We’ll give you a try,” says those in charge to me who’s been pretending Mass for years now. Passion.
If you dismiss it, it will haunt you with whatever recourse your choose. If you repress it, passion will only bite you into maturity and the fulfillment of what passion provides.
We say to folks, “What is your passion” as though it is a cause. Perhaps it is a cause but it is personal. Passion is you. Radio, priesthood? God-chosen or me-chosen? Need there be a difference and if there is then can it not be reconciled and united?
Circa 1980. I was ordained a priest, I had two religious programs for 14 years on commercial radio and 35 as a priest. Passion fulfilled? Not quite.
I’m still doing it today but I think that now the audience/congregation is real. I think it’s better that way and I think my “passion” agrees with me. “I wish.”