I think in just about every situation we can learn something. It has been my experience that it’s usually something we need to learn right when it is time to learn it. It is not always something we want to learn. It has also been my experience unfortunately that the universe is ready when it’s ready and it’s best to just get on board or the universe will continue to give you learning opportunities. I hate that. Take for example the time my cooling system exploded in morning rush hour traffic on the way to an appointment in Seattle. I learned a lot. I learned I’m way too attached to my Jeep. I learned there is no point in throwing a fit over something you can neither control nor fix on your own (no matter how satisfying it is to throw a fit and believe me I find a boot stomping fit highly satisfying). I learned there are really good people in the world who will help you out. Now it was not the first time I “learned” any of those lessons. But sometimes you need to be stuck alone on the side of the road for an hour or two helplessly watching steam pour out of your engine to properly reflect on these lessons and really let them sink in deep.
The best lessons do not come from things however. The best lessons come from the people who come into your life. I am blessed in this regard. I have known so many incredible people. I’ve also known a number of really challenging people. I have found I can learn from both if I just pay attention. I ran into one of those incredible people just last weekend. I had not seen her since she was a teenager. I always thought she was a special person- and not in the “everyone gets a trophy for being on the t-ball team” kind of special. Special as in I could picture her using her gifts to do something really extraordinary in her life. She is one of those naturally joyous people who just glows. She had just finished her degree in opera and I was curious how she came to study opera in the first place. She shared that she had intended to study medicine but as she was selecting a college she heard someone speak who changed the course of her life. This person said that many people are passionate about art or music but don’t study it because they believe that they will not be able to make a living. He asked them to consider what would they do with their lives if money was not a factor; to figure out how to make a life rather than a living. He challenged them to live their passion. And she accepted that challenge. She took a leap of faith that she could live her passion. As I listened to her talk about her education, her upcoming performance and her plans for the future, it was clear she is living her passion.
Admittedly living your passion is a little easier if you are young and just starting out. When you don’t have a marriage, a mortgage, a child, two dogs and a college fund to fill, it’s easy to explore a life making custom surfboards and searching for the perfect wave. But the fact is, even at my age, you can find your passion. You can find ways to make room for your passion in your life. I see it happening all around me- people are climbing mountains, learning to paint, traveling, training for a marathon, dancing competitively and singing opera. They are finding their passion in big ways and small ones. They are finding that thing that challenges them and feeds their souls. I know I have found mine. So, thanks to my young friend for helping me to learn this lesson.
(1/500 sec., f/6.3, 3200 ISO, 600 mm)