Today I interviewed Camden Lawrence of the Nyack College Golf Team (formal article in the Forum forthcoming), and it got me thinking about some things, especially passions.
When I was at freshman orientation for Adelphi in the summer of 2009, all of us new high school graduates were herded into the spiffy concert hall, where we were taught how to ‘meet people’ and then asked to practice with another person in our general vicinity whom we’d not met before. The trick to having interesting dialogue with a person is to find out what they’re passionate about and get them talking on it. Don’t even bother with “What’s your major?” or “What year of school are you in?” or even “Where are you from?” — Start with “What’s your favorite thing to do?” and that gets a person talking.
The surprising thing about it, we were told, is that when someone else speaks passionately about a subject (any subject) and we listen, their passion rubs off on us and we become interested in it, even if at any other time, we wouldn’t be. I remember talking to a guy about baseball for several minutes and being interested in the game, even though every trip I’d ever taken to the Altoona Curve in middle school had bored me to tears. He was passionate about baseball, though, and so it became interesting to me. The approach is a good one if you’re stuck in a situation with someone you don’t know very well/at all. I’ve talked about dogs, eHarmony, video games, music, theater, baseball, and other things with various people over the years by asking first what they love to do before the boring things.
I guess it boils down to this: Passion is intriguing.
Take my golf interview with Camden, for example. I know more about golf than I do about baseball, and have some very fond memories of golfing with my dad when my sisters and I were little, but it wasn’t something I ever pursued. We were more geared toward soccer as kids, and then I quit doing that to join color guard/marching band, which I quit to be in musicals. I had an enjoyable semester as part of the AU Farm (Ultimate Frisbee team), but basically, I’m not a sportsy person. My exercise comes from hiking and walking and the occasional ballroom dance. I guess I’m fairly sedentary. Maybe that’s a byproduct of a couple of years of depression, but still, it’s true.
But the point is, I spent about half an hour listening to Camden talk about why he loves golf. By the end of the interview, I wanted to get out there and start golfing–it sounded superb from his description of the sport. But it wasn’t just his description of the game that got me interested, it was his passion for it and his dedication to it.
When he was talking about becoming a golf instructor someday, I realized that he must feel the same way about golf that I do about writing. It’s what he loves to do. That kind of passion for something is magnificent, especially in an era when society pushes us more and more to conform by taking office jobs (the 9 to 5 kind that leave people exhausted and bitter after two years) or settling for something that’ll pay the bills. We’re not expected to have a passion, let alone pursue one, so when you meet someone who does, it’s a remarkable thing.
It’s invigorating to meet someone with a passion, and (for me, at least), it makes us want to invest more in our own passions. After the interview was over and Camden had left, I felt this sudden rush to get into my fiction and lay down something new and fantastic. His passion for golf sparked something in my passion for writing.
It’s like what Donald Junkins told me the other night. Pursue it. Pursue your passion and, no matter what it is, you’ll be happy in life. You’ll also probably be more successful if you do what you love and are good at it than if you waste your time learning how to do something you don’t enjoy. Pursue what you love.
So what are you passionate about?
(PS–I’ll give you a cupcake if you can explain the title of this blog without googling it.)