Lexicon

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.

Lexicon

Fresh Is a Meaningless Word

I’ve been staying at a hotel for work all week. It’s a boutique hotel, so there’s no restaurant downstairs — just a cafe and bar that serves simple breakfast stuff in the mornings. I was there before the server this morning, and watched as she rolled up the cover to reveal all the baked items and juice and fruit underneath. They’d been there overnight.

“When were these muffins made?” I asked.

“Yesterday. They’re all fresh.”

The oxymoron sirens sounded in my head, though the server did not hear them. I’m not sure what others’ definition of fresh is, but mine firmly disallows muffins made the previous day. And orange juice squeezed more than 12 hours prior. To me, recent means, at the earliest, today. Many bakeries sell day-old baked goods at a discount precisely because they don’t taste as good as the stuff made that morning. Krispy Kreme has made millions by putting up signs advertising donuts straight out of the oven.

But the f-word has been on a precipitous decline anyway (my use of it in other articles notwithstanding), at least since Subway trademarked “Eat Fresh”. Does fresh mean that the lettuce was removed from the package that morning? That the meat was recently thawed? Was it fresh out of the bag? And then there’s farm fresh, factory fresh. Fresh, fresh, fresh. The word is meant to make something sound healthy or new, but it’s used in so many situations in which it is neither that it’s lost its meaning.

We may need a fresh word to replace it.