I've been thinking a lot lately about the things I enjoy. Why do I love tennis, baseball, and reading? I really can't say for sure, but I think it's because I saw how passionate other people were about them and how much those activities enriched their lives.
I started to love tennis after seeing how much John McEnroe cared about it. I started to love baseball after seeing how much my uncle loved to listen to the Kansas City Royals on the radio each night. And I started to love reading after a high school English teacher shared his love of books with us.
I've noticed the reverse to be true. I've interviewed athletes and I've witnessed the actions of athletes who lacked passion and it caused me to feel temporarily disillusioned. If they don't care, why should I? But then I catch myself and shake off their indifference because the last thing I want to live is a passionless life.
With that said, how much passion is too much? Can we get so engrossed in our passions that we fail to do the things we ought to be doing? Surely, the answer is yes, but at the same time, our passions, even if they seem menial to others, are important because they are the avenues we take to express ourselves.
In Nicholas Sparks latest novel, Dear John, the protagonist, John Tyree is bitter about the upbringing his father provided for him (who raised him by himself). John's dad was introverted, socially awkward, had no friends, and he rarely showed any emotion. His routines kept him going, but his passion was coin collecting. He'd inherited a huge collection from his father and all of his social ineptness melted away when he spoke about coins.
As a young boy, John enjoyed going to coin shows with his dad. And he had some great memories as they went on a search together for the illustrious 1926-D buffalo nickel. When they found it, John's dad had a coin dealer snap a photo of them with the coin. As John got older though, he began to resent his father's coin collection. It's all his father seemed to care about.
John later found out that his father had Asperger's. At that point, John knew that they only way to get into his dad's world was to talk about coins with him. And he began to realize that they really did have some great times growing up.
Passion for the things we enjoy not only benefits our own lives, but when we stop long enough to figure out other people's passions and then enter their worlds, we have a marvelous opportunity to interact with them in their most heightened sense of adventure.