“The core problem is not that we are too passionate about bad things, but that we are not passionate enough about good things.” (Larry Crabb)
I have often been described as a passionate person. Once I get an idea in my head, or a concept becomes a part of me, I tend to go all-in and wear my passions on my sleeve. Many times this passion serves me well, it drives me to succeed at things that are beneficial to myself, my family and my job. Other times my passions pull me in directions I’d rather not go. I sometimes find myself being passionate about things that shouldn’t matter, or at least shouldn’t carry the weight that is apparent in my drive.
A few days ago my wife and I were in the car driving somewhere. Somehow the subject of life expectancy came up. A few months back I had read a news bit about how the life expectancy statistics are misleading because they only predict the average number of years that a newborn will live, once a person reaches adulthood, and infant mortality is no longer an issue, the number changes. Life expectancy is a fairly esoteric concept, and I have no idea why I found it the least bit interesting, but in that moment as we were driving I was expressing myself with some real gusto. After a few minutes my wife stopped me and asked me to tone it down some.
I stopped, as she asked, and reflected a bit. Why was I so interested in this seemingly mundane topic? I am not an actuary, or a sociologist. I am not taking any classes on life expectancy rates for the US in the 19th century compared to today. I really didn’t find an answer to my question, but I did realize I as having some misplaced passion.
I am not sure that the delineation of passions runs on a “positive” or “negative” pole, as this quote would suggest. To me it is about misplacement of the passion. When I find that my passions are out of line with who I am, or who I want to be, then it is time to reassess. I am not at all passionate about life expectancy statistics for today, the 19th century, or any other time in history. But in that moment, it seemed very important to me.
Perhaps a psychologist would say that there is some underlying passion that wants to come out but cannot, and so I misplace it into some other topic. Sure, maybe. I am no more a psychologist than an actuary, so I don’t know about that. What I do know about is how I feel. When I feel the swelling of passion within me, and that passion is about something that is relatively unimportant in my life, that is when I need to take a step back.
There are many things in my life about which I have a tremendous amount of passion. These are things that are important to me, and make a real difference in my life and the lives of those around me. That garden of passions is one that needs to be always tended. When the weeds of misplaced passion pop up, I need to yank them and get myself in line. For the next little while, I am going to keep an eye out for passion weeds, and keep that garden clean.