Potential or passion?

How many times have you heard someone accused of wasting his or her talent? Of not fulfilling their god-given potential? Of shirking the responsibility that comes with being able to do this or that? In all of these questions, we imply that being adept at something brings with it the responsibility to use that gift. But we never seem to consider whether these gifted people carry the passion to match their special capacity.

I think that many of us fall into the trap of trying to live up to our talents — doing what we think our family, our friends and the rest of society expect of us. We fall into a routine of doing what we need to do to please others, to fit into the inflexible stencil of expectations. We allow others to define our success, or lack thereof. The victim in this repeating process is our passion, our energy for doing. After enough time in this societal gerbil wheel, our ambition lays broken and worthless.

For many, the realization that we have abdicated control of our lives comes too late. But for most of my contemporaries, an opportunity exists. Certainly, we all have responsibilities in our lives. I am not suggesting we walk away from those solemn commitments we have made. Our word and our promise, in the end, is one of those things of which we retain control.

What I am suggesting is that we take a break from being cogs in the wheel and ask ourselves, What do I really want to do? What do I want to be known for? Who do I want to be? In the answers to these questions, we may find a revitalizing spark that diverts us from our predetermined vector and reignites our passion for life and for each other.