Tag: Passion

What’s Your Special Purpose?

“My dear family, guess what. Today I found out what my special purpose is for. Gosh what a great time I had. I wish my whole family could have been here with me. Maybe some other time as I intend to do this a lot. Every chance I get.”

– Navin R. Johnson, The Jerk

A few days ago, I was scrolling through YouTube and watched a clip of Lex Fridman talking about truly smart people. Lex has a BS and MS in computer science, and a PhD in electrical and computer engineering. He’s a research scientist at MIT (among other things). If he thinks someone is smart… they’re smart. He observed that the one common trait he sees in these folks is a complete and total mastery of whatever their field is.

I would agree. I’ve met a handful of people in my various careers who’d I consider experts. They just had an encyclopedic knowledge of their field. They could recite studies and papers off the top of their heads. They knew obscure formulas and calculations without needing to look up references. They knew the who’s who in that field. I am not one of those people. While I was good at my job and did well, I was never interested enough in my field to really dive in and truly master the subject. I suspect that’s true of most folks.

Last night I watched a silly movie called Burnt with Bradly Cooper. It’s about a chef who had a fall from grace and tries to make his mark in the food world again. What struck me was the complete and total passion the protagonist had for food. Actually, you could see it in all the chefs portrayed in the film. They all had a sincere love for what they did. Even at home you could see the care they put into making a simple meal.

Yes, I know it’s a movie. But I suspect the sentiment is largely true in the higher ends of the cooking world. And then it dawned on me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a passion for any pursuit. Like, ever.

Are there hobbies and things that I like to do? Of course. But I’m not passionate about them. I don’t have one hobby that I’ve completely dove into and understood from beginning to end. I don’t research the latest technology or who the current big names are. I don’t lose track of time reading about the latest and greatest aspects of whatever it is. I drift in and out of my hobbies over the years.

And it occurred to me that this may be what’s missing in my new retired life. A passion and a focus on something… anything. I find myself drifting from activity to activity, day to day, without any real purpose. If the snow’s good, I’ll ski. I hike the dog. Reading when the weather is bad. Household chores. My daily planning consists of looking at the weather report to decide what activity to do. I’m certainly not bored. But it’s beginning to feel a little like just killing time.

I wish I’d cultivated a passion for something years ago. If I had, now that I have the time, I could be wearing a train engineers’ hat and spending all my waking hours building a model train empire in the basement. So, I think it’s time. Time to dedicate myself 100% to a hobby. To become an expert in something.

I don’t know what it’s going to be yet. Cooking? Photography? Video? Start a business? Or maybe I pick a sport and devote myself to it? I don’t know. Like I said, I enjoy all the things I do. But none of them jump out at me as something I want to completely immerse myself in.

Maybe passion is learned? Maybe the passion comes after you dive in and begin the process? I don’t know. But I do know that I need to do something. Maybe I’ll just put all the activities in a hat and randomly pull one out?

Although, I do like trains. And I have a basement. Do they even make model trains anymore? Hmmm…

Do You Have The Passion?

  • Last night I watched adventure photographer Jimmy Chin’s Master Class episodes. My biggest takeaway was his passion for what he does. His description of how he got his first big “break” really struck me. He was in his early twenties, living in his car, and drove to Berkley to try and see a big name adventure photographer. He showed up Monday morning at his gallery and was told the photographer was too busy, come back tomorrow. Jimmy waited in the gallery all day. Then came back Tuesday and waited all day. And Wednesday, and Thursday, and Friday. At the end of the day on Friday the photographer came down and gave Jimmy two uninterrupted hours of his time, which eventually helped spawn his career. While I was watching this, all I could think of was “never in my life have I had that level of passion for anything”. Sure, I have hobbies and things I enjoy doing. But I’ve always been very casual about them. I might practice a little. I’ll do some research to buy gear, find locations, etc… but I can honestly say I’ve never gone all in, 100%. The same thing with work. I’ve always been successful with my careers. I work hard and do my job well. But I’ve never been interested enough to take more classes, join committees, or fully immerse myself in my profession. It’s always just been a job. So is the problem that I just haven’t found my passion yet, or I’m too lazy to actually fully commit to something? I don’t know. I’m happy be-bopping around from hobby to hobby. But I also lament not being very good at any one thing. So, maybe today should the day I fully commit to something and go all-in? So when introduced at parties people will say, “I hear you’re a really good <insert amazing activity>”. Hmmm. Now I just have to pick one. I wonder if doughnut connoisseur is a thing?
  • As I wrote “doughnut connoisseur” I thought, you know that might be a good YouTube channel. Travel around giving doughnut reviews. You laugh, but I stumbled upon a YouTube channel that’s a guy who posts minute long videos of “day in the life of a school bus driver“. He has half a million subscribers. There’s simply no telling what will work or not. I’m willing to go all in on doughnuts.
  • I was going to go all outragey on the Georgia voter suppression, voter ID, Jim Crow story. But I just can’t. Don’t have it in me. Unless you’re a zonked out meth head sleeping in the gutter, you know damn well that you have to have an ID to function in life. What strikes me the most about this is that the democratic leadership, along with the helpful idiots in the media, keep pushing this narrative that it’s racist and voter suppression to require an ID to vote. How do you look yourself in the mirror and then go push what you know is a false narrative? Are voters really that stupid? Wait, don’t answer that.
  • The military’s Special Operations Command decided that what the really scary, badass, and most dangerous units in the military needs is a “Chief of Diversity and Inclusion”. SOCOM proudly announced the hiring of Richard Torres-Estrada, proclaiming “We look forward to his contribution in enhancing the capabilities and effectiveness of #SOF through diversity of talent”. Terrorists everywhere will feel better about themselves knowing that the folks coming to kill them are appropriately diverse and woke. Apparently the military no longer bothers to do background checks however because they then had to immediately reassign him while they investigate his string of anti-Trump posts, one of which compares Trump to Hitler. You can’t make this stuff up.
  • I’m done with winter. I had a bit of a funk day yesterday. It was cold, gray, and crazy windy. I had zero motivation to go outside and that led to a full day of moping around doing absolutely nothing. I hate when I do that. It’s time for sun and warm weather activities.
  • Biden will remain in office for at least the next two years. Why? The Senate is split 50-50. The Vice President breaks the tie. Should they decide grandpa Joe needs to go, Kamala becomes president and the Senate is deadlocked. It takes both houses of congress to approve any new VP President Harris appoints. So… they will continue to wheel out Biden for proof of life from time to time until we see what happens in ’22.

Song of the day: The Romantics – What I Like About You