Saturday, February 5, 2011

That All-Consuming Passion

As I have travelled through life these past four and a half decades, I have noticed two essential attitudes that guide people's lives. There are those who attack life with gusto, taking on one challenge after another, come what may. Then there are those who muddle through life in a grey lament, neither excelling at anything nor seeking to improve their lives. They exist - or even subsist - but they don't seek greatness.

I, of course, fall into the former category. Never one to let a disappointment stop me, I take lessons from my failures so I can avoid the same mistakes, and then I find a new goal to energise me. I have possessed this attitude for all of my adult life, but it stretches back to my early childhood, too.

At the beginning of 2011, a good friend of mine Steven and I were chatting about life and goals. I talked about how I had wanted to pursue a long-form writing project for many years. As a lover of great fiction, I aspired to create a great plot and story, but after much thought and even outlining, the ideas would fall flat. This, as one could imagine, frustrated me. I love fiction so much and have read hundreds of novels over the course my life, so why couldn't I, a confident and mature young adult, come up with a good story? I haven't an answer to that question right now, but in discussing this, my friend suggested something else. In essence, he said to me: 'What about a chronicle of your life and travels?' My first thought was: who would want to read such a thing? My next thought was: who wouldn't! Why isn't my life interesting enough to write about and therefore put out for the world to read - whomever that might entail?

Returning to the goalless drifters for a moment, I notice another common trait: defeatism. Whilst I possess a certain amount of self-criticism, these others wallow in the things they'll never do. Perhaps as children they had parents who treated them as incapable nothings. Perhaps as school children their teachers did the same. And now as adults, their defeatism encompasses the essence of their souls such that when they encounter a can-do spirit, they express jealousy or even hatred. I, on the other hand, feel a tingling excitement when I meet other people of achievement.

Another friend and former colleague, Liza, recently came to Sydney for some business meetings. She's based in Toronto, but travels the world seeking out new opportunities wherever they may originate. The only word to describe Liza is dynamo. She's constantly on the lookout for new challenges and achievements. Wherever she is and whatever the state of economies in North America and abroad, Liza will come out successful and cheerful. Nothing gets in her way. Over dinner, I discussed my book plans with her and how they began to take form. First, she was surprised to hear that I had been writing for such a long time and then she had only words of encouragement to offer. Though I only see Liza occasionally, I consider her a lightning rod of inspiration. Obviously I don't need her enthusiasm to embark on a daunting project such as writing a travel memoir, but it surely encourages me, knowing that I have an audience of other achievers.

In the end, what I see in my friends and in myself is an all-consuming passion to live to the fullest. Yes we admit that disappointments and failures are part of the on-going experiment, but they are brief moments to accept and then cast aside as the consequence of taking risks. If I flash forward to my dying days and one asks me if I have regrets, I am sure the answer will be a resounding NO. That, I submit, is the difference between one who lives and one who merely exists.

1 comment:

  1. Jason,

    I partly found myself in this essay; how I still want and wish to have a book written by me, in my hands (& others').
    Knowing that almost every writer's first book is mostly based on his/her personal life experiences, my first and only, and unfinished novel's plot also contains the subjects of my personal life. Why shouldn't it be interesting to the others? Of course it is... The key of making it readable with pleasure is, I think, the way it is presented with the help of language, logic, mathematics, common feelings.

    It needs thought, time and patience to create it. That's not what I am working on and seek, as the time being :)

    Go for it Jason!