Passion Is Overrated

Many of us spend our entire lives trying to identify what we’re passionate about. When we can’t find it, we get frustrated. We’re supposed to have something that drives us, yet we don’t. We go through the motions instead of being driven by what enthralls us.

Here, I think, we’ve set the bar too high. Passion is overrated. More precisely, it might be the wrong word. Interest is better. Everyone has something they’re interested in. Paul Goldschmidt’s batting average, Starbucks collectible mugs, composting. But when pushed to label these interests as “passions,” we may very well balk. “I’m interested in Balinese doors, but I’m not passionate about them.” As if passion is reserved for something stronger or even for plain weirdos.

All interests can be divided into two types: the things you eventually get tired of and the things you don’t. But don’t you think that never tiring of, say, basketball is a bit suspect? As a kid, I really liked this movie The Pistol, a probably horrible movie about basketball legend Pete Maravich’s youth. In it, the budding Pistol Pete sleeps with a basketball and dribbles it everywhere he goes. He is dedicated to becoming the best possible player.

I liked basketball. I wanted to be a better player. So, I tried sleeping with a basketball. I made it through one night. I just didn’t have his passion.

And that’s probably okay. Because during the time I haven’t been dribbling from place to place, I’ve been learning about and doing other things. I read. I write. I play soccer. I have conversations. I do the things I’m interested in rather than the only thing I’m passionate about. I’m okay with that. But ask me again at 70 when I’ve developed a passion for painting over Taiwanese soup containers.