“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and in thoughts, you return to the Source of Being.”  Lao-Tzu

How To Explore and Discover Your True Passions of Life

Do you remember wanting to learn?

Wanting to discover what you didn’t know about?

Wanting to explore those hobbies and activities you couldn’t get enough of, the ones you always made time for, no matter how busy your schedule?

I do.

It began in college when I lived in a basement apartment in Hyde Park with three other students, working two jobs to pay my expenses.

It didn’t bother me. I was thrilled to be studying. My drafty, damp room was my haven, filled with plants and stacks of classical records I played endlessly.

There was an ever-changing pile of books on the shelf near my bed, and the university’s piano rooms were just a few blocks away.

I could practice whenever I pleased. I couldn’t ask for more. I had hit the mother lode. This was “the stuff” that made my soul come alive.

Hydrangea in bloom

Guard that “stuff” vigilantly….for it can slip away.

During a period in my life, my passions were put on the back burner. When I was working as an executive, building a house in an upper middle class suburb, and raising two children, I got caught up in a lifestyle that wasn’t aligned to who I was. I was living in a township where: Kids drove shiny new BMWs with a look of smug privilege etched on their faces. Parents were more concerned about their children’s’ external achievements than what was going on inside of them. The school superintendent spoke with pride about students with high SAT scores and were admitted to Ivy League schools. Values that I strongly believe in – like kindness, generosity of spirit, and humility – were not taught in the school district. I knew something was wrong. But I desperately wanted to fit in, so I gave it my best shot. The clothes. The house. The cars. And it didn’t work. How had I landed here?

The short answer: I’d been sleepwalking.

What helped my authentic self re-emerge?

The things I loved. Even during this dark phase, my passions waited patiently for me, knowing I’d return to them when I was ready. And when I did, they welcomed me with open arms. My creative playmates were raring to go. This time I didn’t take my passions for granted. I noticed the lump in my throat when a passage in a book moved me. I felt the thrill of seeing spring bulbs emerging from the soil. I listened when I heard the glorious sound of a Bach fugue.

Tuning A Cello

I remembered my passions and they brought meaning to my life.

Twenty  five years later, I ‘ve moved half way across the world, given away 99% of my possessions and gone from a large suburban home on sprawling land to an urban apartment with a rooftop garden and little furniture I have my music, my plants,  my books. I smile often. It happens every morning when I look at my cello and music stand next to it, walk onto the rooftop to gaze at my plants, or as I slowly wash my coffee cup looking out the window. I think about my grand piano, far away in the Philadelphia studio of my cello teacher, where she takes care of it, appreciates and plays it. I can almost imagine its sound. My life is simple…and yet internally exuberant. I’m free to work on the stuff that matters. It’s a good life, and I’m grateful that I didn’t ignore my passions or set them aside. I lived them. I rediscovered them. And I experienced them every day. And I knew that I would never live without them again. Nature, music, and gardening are with me everyday. They inform and enrich my soul. It has been a long journey but the benefits are enormous…peace, happiness, and and a feeling of authenticity. How about you? What makes your heart sing?

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