The Shepherds’ Swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me, and be my love.

Christopher Marlowe, The Passionate Shepherd to his love.

We don’t want work. Work is the compromise to pursue our true passions. Some times that compromise is small. Mostly, our compromises overwhelm us.

Our lives, our careers and our financial position are often centred and dominated by work. We pretend for furtherance of that work and its consequences that the work is what we love. Actually, we don’t. We want to be happy and love what we do every day. That is a passion, not work.

Passions aren’t defined by the role purpose statement, the performance scorecard or the benefits package. Passions are defined by different characteristics: Love, Purpose, Generosity, Creation, Exploration, Discovery, Community, Hope and much more. Passions are big bold abstract ideas with a meaning in real definable human relationships.

Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

Philip Larkin, Aubade

Passions aren’t offered to us. They come from within and lead us without. We discover and nurture them so that we can take them out into the world to others. The rewards of our passions come back to us from all the others they embrace. Passions fill us up with emotions, address our yearnings, and make us complete.

Passions aren’t written on pieces of paper. They mean something to us and to the others who matter to us. Something from nothing. Something bigger than us. Something for others. Something enduring. Something we can share.

Now that I know
How passion warms little
Of flesh in the mould,
And treasure is brittle,—

I’ll lie here and learn
How, over their ground,
Trees make a long shadow
And a light sound.

Louise Bogan, Knowledge

Passions don’t fit the mould. They don’t fit in boxes or org charts or neat process diagrams. Taking energy and making energy, they are messy and combustible. Passions grow and fail. Passions suck others in or send them spinning away out into the world. Whatever they are, we can’t sit still in their grip or we fail the test of purposeful positive urgency that defines them.

Passions are precious. We may not find them often. When we do, we must cling tight and invite others to share them. There is nothing sadder than abandoning a passion before its course is run.

Work will always be at best a proxy for our passions. For many work is a distraction from what matters to their heart. We need to find ways to let passions run in and through our work. Before work takes over everything else.

And what of the dead? They lie without shoes
in their stone boats. They are more like stone
than the sea would be if it stopped. They refuse
to be blessed, throat, eye and knucklebone.

Anne Sexton, The Truth the Dead Know

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