TADS Insights

Live with Passion

1 March 2014


In the past month, I’ve had two different experiences that have reminded me of how important it is to have passion in your life.  When you’re passionate about something, it makes such a difference not only in how you see yourself, but also on the impact it can have for those who come in contact with you.

By way of introduction to the first experience, I need to let you know that in my family, being able to travel and to explore new places is something we really value and enjoy.  So this year, as part of our annual vacation, we decided to stay a week in New York City.
Over the years, we have learned that when visiting a new city, it is a good idea to get one of those 24-hour tourist bus passes that allows you to hop-on and hop-off the bus as it circles various points of interest.  It’s a good way to get your bearings while helping you decide which of the sights you may want to explore some more.

And so it was on a drizzly summer’s day in New York City, we boarded a topless red bus on-route for a 2-hour circular tour of the famous borough of Brooklyn.
I knew fairly quickly that something was not quite right when our tour guide, Parnell, got his new notepad from his bag and proceeded to tell us that this was his first day taking the Brooklyn tour and he apologised in advance for his lack of knowledge.  We began to wonder if we should hop off the bus at the upcoming stop and catch the next bus with, hopefully, a more knowledgeable guide.
But that all changed after only a few minutes.  As we made our way through the busy Manhattan traffic, Parnell told us a little about himself, his life as a New Yorker, and how he had found his “calling” in life as a tour guide.  In his own words, “he wished to be nowhere else today.”

Over the next few minutes, Parnell continued his commentary as we passed various sights and landmarks.  What was amazing to me was his level of enthusiasm for his work.  He was not simply showing us places of interest; he was genuinely enthusiastic about spending the next 2 hours of his life with 40 or so total strangers on his bus.
Soon enough, the fact that Parnell was a newbie and had to make frequent reference to his notepad, did not make the slightest bit of difference to any of us.  Passion trumps mere knowledge every time.  His genuine enthusiasm made all the difference.   At the end of a most enjoyable tour, Parnell received a rousing round of applause full of gratitude from all his passengers.  And I’m sure, a great tip too!

What drives people who are passionate?  I believe that it is always based on the idea of service – genuinely wanting to be of assistance to others so that their lives are better in some tangible way.  If you can see your life and your work in terms of service, or in making a contribution in some way, you will have taken a major leap forward.

My second experience is that of attending the funeral of our next door neighbour, George, a few weeks ago.  When he died, George was 94 years old, and in his own words, “ready to go”.  For most of his life, George lived here in our local village where he and his wife – Hetty – raised a beautiful family.
What made George a most remarkable person was how he lived his life.  To say that he was passionate about our village would be somewhat of an understatement.  For almost 60 years, George was at the centre of almost everything that happened locally.  He campaigned on all sorts of issues, was a key player in the development of our community hall, and he loved where he lived.
As we said “goodbye and thank you” to George, the overwhelming feeling that day in our packed community hall was one of gratitude.  George was truly passionate about everything local.  And that’s how he would like to be remembered.

What I admire about Parnell and George is that their passion was fuelled by this genuine desire to serve others.  They were not doing it for their own benefit, but in a strange way, they did benefit too.  They had lives of meaning, wanted to wake up in the morning, and must have experienced tremendous enjoyment from how they spent their time.

So, what are you passionate about?

-- David Keane