One of my favorite books is “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke. To say this book changed the way I see life is an understatement. The book is about a young poet named Kappos who writes to Rilke asking for advice about his poetry. The book only contains Rilke’s responses to Kappos’ letters but there are very insightful, not just for a young poet but for anyone trying to find their way. One of the gifts of advice that Rilke provides to Kappos about his writing is this “You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you – no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write?”
We all have something that we are passionate about: writing, teaching. music, helping people, helping animals, art, etc. You may not know what it is yet, but it is there, you just have to listen and feel for it. Your passion is not a hobby. It is not something you do to pass the time or relax. Your passion is what you were meant to do in life. Your passion is your calling. Your passion is your heart’s desire of how it wants to leave your mark on the world. Your passion may not be something that can build a career but that doesn’t make it any less special or any less important. A passion is something that may not fill your checking account but will fill your soul. Your passion is meant for you, not for anyone else and that is why no one can help you find it. Your passion is your expression of what you have to offer the world.
Finding your passion is a journey you alone have to take. If you are lucky enough to know what your passion is, GREAT! Now go spread that passion and see the world change around you. For those of you who are wondering what your passion is, I give the same advice as Rilke. Look within yourself and ask yourself, what must you do to breathe and feel alive? What would kill you if you couldn’t do that anymore? What does that little voice inside you say when you daydream about the life that you want? When you think about being in love with life, what do you see yourself doing? If you still come up empty, start trying new things, explore life like a child. With wild abandon, place yourself in situations that are different, meet new people, experience new experiences, travel, see the world with child like wonder and feel. Pay attention to how you feel when going through these experiences. What makes you feel new? What makes your feel alive? What makes you feel like you have come home? Like this is what you were meant to do? This will be your passion.
Passion can be one thing or it can be many things. There is no set requirement for what a passion has to be, except that it is something that makes you come alive and feel alive. Living your passion will give your life purpose and meaning. Once you find your passion, find a way to incorporate that activity and feeling into your every day life. It can be through volunteer work, finding ways to add your passion into your career, or making your passion your career. Finding your passion is the first step to living a life with the true purpose it was meant to be lived.