He Lost His Marbles

marbles2My husband’s passions netted a heck of a lot of ‘stuff’. No, not just a few things – an entire room of them! Along with his legendary toy soldier collection, he also amassed authentic reproductions of antique planes, old tops and more marbles than the entire planet could play with. But his menagerie of little planes, soldiers and marbles kept the boy alive in the man I loved. Okay, it was a money pit but who can put a price on a passion? Or measure the innocent happiness it gave a guy who went through constant medical challenges. When Dr. Suess said said “Adults are obsolete children” he probably knew that sometimes child play is exactly that we need.

I am not wired with a collector’s brain. When I saw my guy’s glee over in yet another new soldier or collector’s marble, I confess it often hit my ‘crazy button’. In my world, especially during my time as a single mom, necessities always trumped disposable expenditures. There was no room in a home where three growing kids needed new underwear, sports fees or the million other endless expenses for the frivolous. Even as an empty nest boomer now, there still isn’t. But these days, I think more and more that maybe I just never had the yen for a passion. Like all busy mothers and wives, I never had much time to think about exploring my ‘passion’ but at my age now, it’s if not now – when?

The 64 thousand dollar question? What IS my passion? Sure my mind swirls constantly with tons of ideas. My DIY list is chock full of stuff I could, should, might be doing. Write a book? Why not? Unearth those colored pencils and illustrate again? I can do that. Take my ancestry search on the road to discover my roots? Learn to finally use my tricked-out camera? Yes, please. Every one is a passion contender, one that could easily become an obsession. Uh oh.

I realized that even if I methodically listed every passion possibility,  it probably wouldn’t call up the excitement that would spur me to spend every untagged dollar. That’s just not in my DNA. On the other hand, maybe I just haven’t bumped into the right one yet. If that’s the case, I better find it soon. I’m not getting any younger.

And I’m not alone. Apparently few of my friends have found their ‘one true thing’ either; the thing that pushes them to expand or be obsessed by. Few of them were thrilled with that realization either. Ah, the agony and ecstasy of it! Why DON’T we have that one thing (or many) that we would spend our money, time and energy on? Like most women, our passion has always been family – kids, a husband, and now grandchildren. I get that; I did that. Now,  my sweet husband is gone, kids are grown and grandchildren also busy growing and doing. I think a new passion is in order.

First,  though, I have to get out of my own way.

I think I may have outgrown my widow training wheels. Since my husband’s death, I’ve made more time, more changes and more cheesecake. Yet, I doubt I’m far down the yellow brick road. I say no when I should say yes to adventures, to things that take me out of my comfort zone, sometimes even to leaving my house! Yet, doing what scares us is the ultimate path to passion. It’s the only way to expand comfort zones, while not necessarily leaving them.

“Leap and the net will appear” may be the perfect motto to tack up on my computer but wait, leap where? Since I think a few of us might be all dressed up and ready to go but now knowing where, I thought I’d share a few ways we can try to find that elusive ‘passion’:

  • What did you love to do as a kid? Maybe your inner child is just waiting for you to remember so you can use your big kid skills to pursue it again.
  • Make a creativity board. All those magazines you’ve been collecting with pages turned down? Rip ‘em out – then paste them up on a board. These not-so-random images will become intention for what you want to create.
  • Inventory your talents. What are you naturally good at? Growing things? Baking intriguing dishes? Talent is a clue but what make sure it’s what you you truly enjoy. That’s what raises the stakes. 
  • What do you do that makes you lose track of time? If you had all the time in the world, what would you have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, away from?

Whether your passion is yoga, rescuing animals, birding, chocolate (I threw that in) or, like me, writing, do that — a lot. It doesn’t have to be exotic, over-the-top creative or even inspirational. The only person your passion needs to ‘wow’ is you.

Remember that movie, Bagger Vance? In one scene, he reminded a one-time great golfer, “Inside each and every one of us is one true authentic swing. Something we were born with. Something that’s ours and ours alone. Something that can’t be taught to you or learned. Something that’s got to be remembered.”

So, instead of running to find your passion,  maybe we just have to remember it — then have at it.

Oh, and if you find your ‘thing’ is collecting marbles, I just might be able to give you a head start.

You’re welcome.




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