4.26 Can You Retire Passion?

If you really wanted to, could you remove yourself from the “revolution” and live what some might call a “normal life?” Maybe the real question is: can you retire the essence of who you are, your passion to serve?

I’ve been around sports most of my life and one thing I learned early on was that when athletes have lost their passion, it’s time to stop playing the game. I wonder if it’s the same for individuals in the field of activism and social justice. Can you really let go of the work you would do, even if you didn’t get paid to do it? Can you really let go of a career, if you are truly passionate about it?

I think it takes a certain level of commitment and a whole lot of passion for a person to be inspired to get up day-in and day-out, with the mind set of achieving justice and equity for others. But when your passion begins to dissipate because everywhere you look you feel like there’s someone in need, something needs to be fixed, or that “somebody done done somebody wrong,” then maybe its time to step back and regroup. I think authentic leadership renewal is one way to rejuvenate, but what if deep down you are convinced that you’ve had enough, you’re done, and you just feel like walking away from it all? What do you do with your passion then?

Most of the people I know in and around my profession are very passionate about what they do, paid or unpaid. I applaud their efforts. I applaud the “people who keep on keeping on.”

I know a few people who feel challenged by their work in one manner or another and they entertain the idea of just walking away; those are the ones who believe walking across the threshold of some large corporate office building would serve them better. The demands of family obligations or financial commitments almost dictate that they follow that route.

Then there are the select few (who set out to do good) that have become “dishonest, unprincipled, backstabbing, sleaze balls.” I question whether their passion was passion to begin with.

But it’s the ones who’ve genuinely lost their passion for the work that I’m most concerned about. We can’t afford to lose them.

Helping people, changing situations, and achieving justice extracts a great deal of a person’s energy, time, and commitment – but what job doesn’t? Its not always fun but it can be very rewarding and satisfying. If you have even the slightest bit of reward or satisfaction on any job, then how can you truly walk away?

You can get fed up with the people, the systems, even the pay; you can get fed up with social justice or injustice in general, but can you really walk away if your passion is at the center of what drives you to do what you do? Being able to pursue your passion everyday is an intricate part of who you are and although you probably can walk away from the people, can you truly walk away from your passion?

Maybe you can, but your heart will probably be calling you back.