The instant I discovered my passion, a chorus of voices harmonized and fireworks exploded – actually that isn’t what happened at all. Let’s rewind.
I often wonder, “What is passion anyway?” The word-nerds tell us that passion is ‘any strong, powerful emotion’ and clarify this big feeling is most especially ‘love or hate.’ I can testify that following your bliss means embracing this duality. I am a filmmaker, a mother, and a teacher. I find tremendous joy in each of these roles and at times a kind of feverish madness takes over. This past November, I literally threw out my back because I became so engrossed in throwing an outrageously fun Clue Mystery Party for my daughter. I saw the warning signs that my body was giving out, but I couldn’t resist the passion.
Passion is dangerously delicious and intoxicating. In the throws of doing what I love, I do feel sparks like fireworks, but there is also the unglamorous grunt work and if you’re not careful passion can destroy your body, relationships, and even the work itself. The unmistakable hallmark of passion is that illogical, implausible, and nonsensical driving commitment. It’s not surprising that the word passion is rooted in the Latin passio, meaning suffering. Usually passion involves sacrifice and even pain.
So here are my five watchwords to thriving (and surviving) passion:
I was seven months pregnant when I shot my first feature film. If I had known anything about being a mother or making a feature, I may not have made that choice. Yet juggling the inward and outward focus was illuminating. Knowing I needed to take special care of my health. As I waddled around the set, I realized how essential it is to nourish: to breath, eat, rest, connect, and play.
I didn’t plan to be a teacher, but I stumbled into it. In my twenties, I went to Argentina to study photography; I taught English to pay my way. When I lived in New Mexico and was writing, I taught skiing to cover the bills. And now that I’m all grown up and an Emmy nominated filmmaker, I teach writing. It wasn’t a conscious part of my vision to be a teacher, but one day a little light bulb went off and I realized, WOW, I love teaching! If I hadn’t been flexible, I would never have hatched W.O.W. Writing International. Flexibility is saying ‘yes’, is being willing, and is essential to growing.
When I bake with my daughter we always remind each other that it is impossible to cook without making a mess. As the saying goes: you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs! Making mistakes is part of the process.
Don’t waste time blaming; find the funny in mistakes. Blunders are an opportunity for laughter. Humor can right size things and fuels resilience.
You know you have found your passion when you like to tinker. As an independent filmmaker, my projects have had extended time horizons. The finish line usually keeps receding. Celebration is the way to activate gratitude. Pause to enjoy the process. Celebrating doesn’t need to be big and noisy. In fact, celebrating is often best when it is quiet and small—like a really great hug.
You know your passion when it shows up. Now are you ready to nourish it? Be flexible enough to see it? Laugh at your mistakes? Be risky? Celebrate where you are right now. Be open to where your intuition is leading you. Say yes and start again.
SASCHA RICE is an Emmy nominated filmmaker, public speaker, and teacher. Her documentary “California State of Mind” garnered a Grand Jury Prize for Cinematic Vision. Sascha created the educational curriculum My California Now, is the co-founder of W.O.W. Writing Int’l, and offers creative workshops for all ages. Sascha tutors children privately and is the program coordinator and a mentor for the Young Writers Workshop at Ivanhoe Elementary. She has appeared on television, radio programs, and has been published online.