ZUBIN
MATHAI
author of the oarsman
Passion Is
June 23, 2016

Last week I rode my bike to Foster Park and sat on a log to eat a snack. On a weekday the park is beautifully deserted so I was wrapped in the familiar, delicate, loving blanket of solitude.

The question of passion arose. As birds called out from trees, lazy flies floated by, and the hot air and roughness of the log bounded my body, I visited the future. What can I do to earn a living? What could I be interested in enough to start up? What am I passionate about? No answer came.

I then visited the past. Have I ever been passionate about anything? The thing that came closest was programming. I loved learning it. I loved how — after it clicked one summer afternoon when I was thirteen — it became so easy and effortless. It felt like I was no longer in the way. I pictured what I wanted on the screen then would furiously type and a few hours later I would have it: a pixeled plane flying across the screen, a robot transforming into a car, an alien shooting lasers.

But apart from that first summer, I don’t think I was ever again fully passionate about programming. My mind quickly hijacked that new skill of mine. I could use it to get out of my life, to make money to move away from my parents. It was a safety valve when too much pressure was building, fuel for daydreams of a future as different as possible from the present. There was little passion elsewhere in those years.

A car quietly rolled past, and the occupants looked at me, probably wondering why I was sitting motionless on that log staring at the beautifully tall and peacefully still trees in front of me; trees which in a moment were me and everything around me; there were no boundaries between any expression of Life.

If I could not find memories of passion, or evidence of passion in my present, the only other option was to explore what was arising here and now. Who is it who longs for passion? What is passion itself?

When I dove into the heart of that moment which presented itself all I could see was Love. The same way I got out of the way of my teenage fingers across that keyboard, I got out of the way of that moment in the park, and all that was there was the deepest appreciation and thankfulness. I was awed to stillness to be there, to be surrounded by the warmth of the air, the warmth of my heart unbounded by my body, present in every tree and blade of dried grass. I stared into into Life and it stared back as me.

When you are everything around, when you are nothing but, there is a beautiful mocking mystery which makes you laugh: There is nothing called passion, and yet that nothingness is brimming with Passion itself.