Thursday, March 4, 2010
FINDING YOUR PASSION
"I wonder if a leaf feels lonely when its friends fall to the ground." ~ John Muir~ This touches me in a myriad of ways.
John Muir (21 April 1838 – 24 December 1914) was a Scottish-born American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. What he was able to accomplish because of the depth of his passion is nothing short of miraculous. Muir devoted most of his time in his later life to the preservation of the Western forests. He petitioned the U.S. Congress for the National Park Bill that was passed in 1899, establishing both Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. Because of the spiritual quality and enthusiasm toward nature expressed in his writings, he was able to inspire readers, including presidents and congressmen, to take action to help preserve large nature areas. His biographer noted "Muir has profoundly shaped the very categories through which Americans understand and envision their relationships with the natural world.
Why do I mention this great man? I mention him because it reminds me that it only takes one person with great passion to make a monumental difference and in the process history changes. Muir's writing expressed his enthusiasm and passion that moved people to save our wilderness for future generations.
I thought perhaps that, in a not so dissimilar yet more miniscule way, my writing and speaking might inspire others to take action and go to battle for our soldiers. Then I wonder if it is not about finding the right words, but finding the time, finding your passion, finding why you are here on this earth, and caring enough to look!
We all have choices and it is in these choices that we can stay stuck and stagnant or we can pick our battles and fight a righteous fight. To paraphrase Mary McCarthy, we all want to be the hero of our own stories. But what if it isn't about our story? What if it is about what we do to make a difference, change a life, or simply sit by a friend in pain and wipe away a tear. This is where my energy is derived. This is where my life has found its greatest meaning and richest rewards. Sitting next to a soldier in great mental anguish and telling him that I am there for him, to listen, to hear, to care means everything in the world. All they want is to know that what they gave and sacrified made a difference. I think of our therapy dogs and what they offer...non-judgemental acceptance and unconditional love. They don't ask questions, they don't judge, they are quite simply a comforting, calming presence.Something we could all learn from. We are all in kinship and what is most important is our family, our friends, our values, and our faith. It really is quite simple. Some of these soldiers have no family. They need someone. On many occasions I am that someone.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, said "It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth - and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up - that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had." Wow! This is freeing. It is okay for me to feel this passion and it is okay if you don't. It is okay that I overheard someone say about me that 'she doesn't have a life.'
The secret to life is commitment to doing something that will make us a better person and when we leave this earth it will be a little better because we were here. To ease the pain of another, to hold the hand of a friend, to sacrifice your story for others, you will find that there is no loss in this universe without meaning.
I remember my dearest friend telling me that only through compassion for others will you be able to find passion. I listened to him with interest, not at all certain I understood. But now I do. Emotional pain and grief ultimately allows us to feel another's pain. And I need to admit that I do this to a fault. Sometimes compassion fatigue is exhausting and exasperating and demolishes me. But it is who I am. Through it all I have refused to be defeated. And with each 'ouch' I have become a better person - a sincerely passionate person. Sometimes in my life I have needed to be carried, when I just didn't think I could do it anymore. I will always remember who was there for me. I think Kathryn Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space, when she was asked if she felt closer to God up there. Her response - "I think you feel closer to God holding the hand of someone in great pain who needs you."
"History has demonstrated that the most notable winner usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats."
"...without darkness nothing comes to birth, as without light nothing flowers."
Photography by Jon Sullivan ~ Sequoia National Park
Consider purchasing POCKETS OF PEACE ~ For Fears, For Tears, For Laughter, Love and Life
for someone who needs inspiration and to know that they are loved and that you care. 100% of the proceeds go to benefit our soldiers.
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