“Passion” Bugs

I think that one of the most overused words is “passion” and its variations.  As in, “What’s your passion?” or “My passion is X,” or “I’m really passionate about A, B, and C.”  “Passion” (the word, not the thing) makes me cringe because I think that a person who is truly passionate about something pursues that something.  The fact of the pursuit is enough; the statement is superfluous.  And so if someone talks about a passion, it makes me think that person is a dilettante.  Maybe this is unfair, but I’ve had a couple of experiences in the past couple of weeks that reinforce this.

Loraine and I went to Napa and Sonoma for a long weekend (I’ll have more details in a future post).  Loraine loves wine.  She has passed the Level 1 sommelier exam offered by the Court of Master Sommeliers.  She is a certified wine educator.  To use the irritating vernacular, wine is Loraine’s passion, but you’ll never hear her talk about it that way.  That’s because she’s too busy learning about wine and teaching others about wine and drinking wine and having knowledgeable conversations with wine experts to say that wine is her passion. 

When we visit

wineries, Loraine will book a special tasting with tour if it’s offered.  It gives us a chance to taste a wider range of the wineries’ product; it gives us insight into their winemaking philosophy and practices; and it allows her to have a deeper conversation with a winery employee about the wine.  People who work in the wine industry are, by definition, passionate about wine.  There are a lot of dues that have to be paid over the course of several years before you can make money off of a love for wine, and even then, there’s no guarantee.  Not once have we ever had a conversation with someone in the industry and heard that person say, “Wine is my passion.”  There’s no need.  It’s self-evident.

We have heard that statement before, though, and it usually comes from one of our fellow tasters.  The statement is accompanied by the need to demonstrate just how much more this person knows about wine than the rest of us, including the winery’s employee.  The passionate person will talk about vintages and use other wine jargon convincingly, but in his effort to impress reveals a lack of depth in his knowledge.  After several years of going to these tastings and observing these folks, I’ve come to the realization that the person who says, “Wine is my passion,” actually means, “I love drinking expensive wine.”  That’s ok because, seriously, who doesn’t, but it’s an example of the difference between passion and “passion” for me.

A few days after returning from California, I took my car to have the speakers replaced.  You might remember that my car is ten years old and has already been overhauled past its current value.  I’m certain that it doesn’t make economic sense to spend more money on this car, but I can’t enjoy driving it if I can’t hear music and sing along.  After almost a year of listening to blown speakers, I searched Yelp to find someone good in the area, and I found Dan at Soundscape.

You can find the awesome reviews on Yelp, and I agree with them, so I won’t go into detail here.  What the reviews didn’t tell me is how much Dan loves music.  He’s a musician himself, and he’s worked in music production.  During the four and a half hours that I sat and read my Kindle in Soundscape’s waiting room, I heard all of Dan’s conversations with other customers and had a couple with him myself.  Dan is a music and stereo expert.  When I expressed interest in who sings this song, he got really excited and played a few more songs, introduced me to the bands, talked about why he thinks they’re awesome, and offered to write their names down for me (Muse, Tool, Puscifer, Dead Sara).  And he did all of this with the infectious joy that comes from talking about something that is his passion without ever once referring to it that way or being an arrogant jerk about it.

I downloaded Dead Sara’s album off of Amazon.  I haven’t had a chance to listen to it all the way through yet, but when I do, I’m going to crack open a bottle of wine that I tasted with Loraine in California and enjoy the fruits of other people’s demonstrated (and unstated) passions.  Every day, I see more proof that joy comes from doing and learning and authenticity.  Thanks for the reminder, universe.

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