My friend R has just returned from a five-day retreat focusing on the theme of happiness: remembering what you are passionate about and trying to find ways to make that a priority in your life. She seems, well, happy. So I am intrigued. But it's hard for me to remember lost passions, let alone make them a priority, because I don't think I have ever had any.
The retreaters made a list of 10 things they loved doing and then looked to see if the one at the top of the list was truly No. 1 or whether there was something they'd left off the list that should be on it.
I am cowed by the notion of coming up with even, say, five passions, let alone 10, and the passions that come readily to mind—my children, my yoga—I dwell so intensely on already that I think it would be unwise to make them more of a priority. My children would rebel. My yoga could probably handle it.
There are things I enjoy: eating, shopping, crossword puzzles, movies, reading, socializing, writing. And then there are my addictions: breastcancer.org and other cancer-related blogs. No passions. Am I allowing myself to be derailed by a question of semantics? I don't think so.
My friend H and I spent Fourth of July together watching the fireworks and talking about our lives. H's marriage broke up after she discovered that her husband had been leading a double life, living part time with another woman and colluding with their mutual friends, including her best friend, to keep it a secret from her. Her beautiful sons are not doing well—one has dropped out of college and seems to be dealing drugs, and the other, after a year of chronic truancy, is in a private residential high school for troubled kids. Through it all, H has tried to live in accord with her values while at the same time being alert and tough enough to avoid being taken advantage of by her kids or her ex. On the Fourth, she said matter-of-factly, "I think I'm losing the will to live." She meant not that she was on the verge of taking her life (unless I misunderstood her) but that her attachment to her life was diminishing. And I feel something of the same phenomenon. It's not that I'm depressed. I just feel a certain lack of, well, passion. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. Though it doesn't feel like a particularly good thing either. It's just a new life stage.