I want to share an experience exemplifying passion in your life. It is easy to dismissively say, “Oh sure, I’m passionate about this, that and that …” But when you see the light of passion in another’s eye or feel the power of it emanate from within yourself you know a deep and pure passion.
This winter, I’m in Connecticut living with and being companion to my elderly Father. He is of sound mind and still able to hobble about the house. He has his interests, but one of my biggest challenges, especially on dark, dreary days, is to provide alternatives to television and naps, such as Scrabble or reminiscing.
Dad’s lifelong passion has been trees. He began by planting thousands of evergreens in high school as a 4H project and went on to develop a livelihood for our family and subsequent generations with a harvest-your-own Christmas tree farm. Side interests have been operating a shingle mill, and in later life a small sawmill. Visiting wood-related operations during travel has been a lifelong pursuit and one, when we were kids, that always elicited eye-rolling from us siblings. “Not another mill Dad …”
Today, a tree crew arrived to work for a couple of weeks on our farm. This is a crew with huge chainsaws and incredible machines that can clamp on to the biggest of trees, cut it at the base and then set the log on a truck to be taken to a mill. Everything else is chipped for mulch or fuel. One day a forest, the next poised to be transformed to a new farm field. I knew, from previous visits, that this fascinates Dad and his attention can be held longer by this activity than anything else.
I needed to be on a videoconference most of the day, a pretty foreign concept to Dad. Before I started, we went and watched a particularly large tree being cut. Once home and on the computer, I could hear my Dad downstairs calling friend after neighbor after family member saying, “Wouldn’t you like to come over and watch the trees being cut?,” i.e. pick me up and take me to watch.
I emerged on a 10-minute meeting break; my brother had just returned Dad from watching the tree operation. With a glow and earnestness in his fading eyes he pleaded, “Can we go watch the tree crew?” It broke my heart to say no.
I returned to my meeting and couldn’t stop thinking about my good fortune. Here I am at age 57 with the opportunity to live with my 95 year old Father. And while I’m doing a lot for him, he is still giving to me. What a beautiful reminder it was of the importance to one’s life to have a driving passion. For all the ills and aches in Dad’s body and mind, his spirit is still ready to leap when anyone says “tree” or “wood” or “forest.”
As a wedding officiant I love to see the glow of passion in a couple’s eyes. I know that when they show it for each other, that a deeper level of passion in their lives gives them the capacity to have it for one another.