What is Your Passion? With so much going on in our lives it can seem pointless to even consider it. I can almost hear the reply, “Huh? You want me to work full-time, raise kids, make meals and follow my passion? Sure thing buddy!”

I complained to a friend of mine recently. She’s a singer named Kristie. I griped that my life has become too diverse and I muttered that my activities have increased to the point where they’re not so enjoyable anymore. Extra pressures include paperwork and endless online communication. But it’s also from taking on new projects without letting old ones go. The result, I grumbled, is that I’m juggling more objects and it’s becoming less fun.

I felt mean-spirited to complain in such a muttering, grumbling sort of way. To display a lack of gratitude for opportunities in life seems churlish; especially when compared with the miserable lot of all those clapped in the shackles of grinding servitude. But instead of chastising my selfishness Kristie took me in a surprising direction. She asked, “What is your passion?”

“Erm, why?” I replied, “What’s that got to with anything?” She said, “If you know your passion then you can devote more time and energy to that and less to the other things.”
I was stunned. This was a new way of thinking for me.

Some things were easy to cross off my passion list. They included taxes, house-hold chores and anything involving a computer or phone (basically life’s unavoidable duties.) Much harder to choose from were my various work related roles: making music, live performance, teaching uke workshops, singing, creating songs, recording, and writing. All these things I take pleasure and pride in. If I had to drop all but one of them which would it be? This spurred me on to a new round of griping, “I can’t possibly…it’s too hypothetical…how can I choose just one?”

With further urging I narrowed down my top passion contenders to two choices. Kristie then asked me to imagine placing one of these in each of two corners of the room. As I closed my eyes she reminded me to visualize the choices I had made and the parts of the room where they resided.

Kristie said, “Do you feel a pull towards one of the corners?”

Yes I did. The attraction to one corner was unmistakable, and slightly overwhelming. Moments before this my mind had been a confused swirl over what to do. Now it was clear. Apparently this was my passion. The other trivialities in my life paled in comparison and I felt a surge of deep feeling; an abiding sense that this experience was profound and true. It was actually enough to stop me grumbling for several minutes.

Many take up the ukulele with some idea that it will lead them to their passion. Which they believe must be to perform onstage. But I disagree with this thinking. When I travel to ukulele clubs I meet a wide cross-section of people who all happen to play the ukulele. But look more closely and you’ll see the instrument is but a conduit to many possible passions. The uke players come together to make music but their natural roles soon become evident:

  • Some are leaders: they express themselves by forging a vision for the group.
  • Some are carers: they scan the group looking for those in need of assistance and come to their aid.
  • Others are teachers: they strive to develop their own understanding in order to pass the knowledge to others.
  • Some are communicators: they develop the threads of interconnection that bind everyone together and help to disseminate information.
  • Some are stage entertainers: they shine in order that we may connect with our own spirits.
  • Some are social entertainers. They may never go near the stage but are always ready to share a song or a story that will crack you up.
  • Some are hosts: they offer their homes and time to accommodate visiting entertainers from far away (Indeed I am presently being humbled by the kindness of several Australian strangers who are going out of their way to make my upcoming visit there possible.)

If you don’t know what your passion is, perhaps this can help: Figure out what you enjoy doing most of all. It has to be something that you feel strongly about. It should be nearly as vital to you as food, air and water; something that you’ll always want to do no matter where life takes you.

If your answer is unclear then sit in a quiet room and place your two most fulfilling activities in each of the far corners. Then close your eyes and notice if there is a pull of attraction towards one part of the room. You may experience this as a sense of peace or another feeling that draws you. If this works but seems incomplete it could be that you need to define your passion in more detail. Try using the technique more than once to refine your choice.

Knowing your passion helps focus your energies and decision making. Do newly presented choices further your life’s purpose or are they mere sidelines and distractions? Cut out the things that no longer serve you. It’s good for us to be diverse, for as author and waterbed inventor Robert Heinlein said, “Specialization is for insects”, but enough is enough.

Figuring out what you don’t want is important. And imagine the joy you’ll get in doing what you love, in the place where you want to be. It’s certainly nothing to grumble about.

© Ralph Shaw 2011

If you’d like to know more about Ralph, please check out his website, his blog, or even his brand new book, “The Ukulele Entertainer,” which is to be found in his web store. Reposted with permission.

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4 thoughts on “Finding Your Passion, a post by ukulele maestro Ralph Shaw

  1. we have so many things that we like to do but there is this one that has your heart. Don’t cloud it with: musts, needs, shoulds, nice to haves, and remember that it is always about “LOVE IT”

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