Monday, August 3, 2009

This I Believe...

I got this idea from the essay series on NPR. I got to thinking about what I believe in and realized that my beliefs have changed drastically over the course of the last 2 or 3 years. When I ended my marriage, I believed it was my choice, and therefore my destiny, to not feel passion.

Feeling passion and fiery about things has always been a way of life for me. When I find a food I like, I eat it every day for weeks. When I find a movie I like, I watch it enough to repeat the character's dialogue. When I love a book, I'll read it over and over until it falls apart in my hands (at which point, I go out and buy a brand spanking new copy and repeat the process). I come from a rather opinionated family who talks, lectures and argues their points ad nauseum. I laughed too loud, cried too hard, felt pain too deeply.

For about a year after Ex moved out, I focused solely on making sure my daughter adjusted to her new life. She was never particularly close with Ex, but when their scheduled overnight visits came around, I wanted her to have a good time with him. I used what time she spent with Ex to heal. I went to the movies by myself, ate in restaurants while staring out the window, took long walks while contemplating my next move.

After 3 or 4 months of this (ok, ok, it was more like 9 or 10 months), I began to miss excitement. A friend of mine declared me "fun deprived" and told me I needed to get out more often. "But I go out!" I declared. She explained that I needed to find passion again. Not just with a man, but for my life, for food, books and music and for being a human in a complex world.

My friend is a genius.

I needed to stop existing. I slowly "came to life" again. When I did go out on dates, I became more choosy. I didn't eat the same thing over and over. I felt passion for my life again.

As I look back, I had a happy childhood. I had 2 loving parents (who, by the way, still love each other after 40 years) and although we weren't rich by any stretch of the imagination, I was given opportunities that few of my friends had. Maybe it's because I am an only child and maybe it's because my parents were the first in their families to attend college and knew there were amazing things out there to discover. I went to college and finished without student loan bills. I spent 7 months in Germany and traveled to 5 different countries while I was there. I had an amazing support system when I was planning my wedding and when I gave birth.

So, in a nutshell, this is what I believe. Passion should be a way of life. Don't just go through the motions. Dance in the produce section of the supermarket if a good song comes on. When you kiss someone, mean it. When you hug a friend, linger an extra second so that person knows you really care. When you scratch a dog, use 2 hands and don't stop till they smile. Go ahead, laugh too loud!!

Passion isn't always about's about living a meaningful life, paying it forward, replenishing your reserves, coloring with crayons (by the way, it's perfectly ok to go outside the lines) and surrounding yourself with love.