Friday, November 2, 2012

On Passion

Guest Post By Lynn Shattuck, a writer and mother of two.

“A one, two, a one two free foe!” My three and a half year old son bellows, then begins banging on the elaborate “drum set” he has arranged in our dining room. The drum set is actually a convoy of red Radio Flyer bikes, a yellow rideable dumptruck, and a little plastic basketball hoop that he has declared to be a cymbal. Ironically, he sits on his lone drum while he pounds on the trucks.

 “Mama! Play music with me!” He hands me his oversized yellow plastic shovel; clearly, he wants me to strum the “guitar” while he drums.

 Max is passionate about music. He always has been. When he was a colicky, red-faced infant, we would put on a Gary Jules song and dance with him. Every time it came on, he would get a faraway look in his eyes. And he would stop crying. If you remember the Seinfeld episode with Desperado, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

 And now, as a preschooler, music still consumes him. The other day, my mom had to wrestle an egg slicer out of his hand. To Max, it was a tiny guitar.

 So I’ve been thinking a lot about passion lately. Not that type of passion. The following your dream type. The spark that makes someone dream up citrusy potions in her kitchen. A good friend of mine recently became a finalist in a national competition for the handmade bags and accessories he fashions out of reclaimed materials. He works a day job and has a young daughter. He scours the Salvation Army for fabric and morphs his finds into beautiful bags in his basement during his “spare time.” He makes them because he has to.

 Sometimes I envy this passion. I try not to project into the future and worry about what Max’s future will be if music continues to be his thing (Drugs and Groupies and Piercings, oh my!). He is young, and who knows where life will lead him. But that passion.  When I had children, I put a lot of my desires on hold. It felt like there simply wasn’t as much time for them. How could I sit down and write when there laundry and dishes and bills to do?  How could I make time for the words that pulsed through my head, aching to get out?

How could I not make time?

If I imagine Max in thirty years, pushing his passion—whatever it ends up being—way into the perimeter of his life, it makes me so sad. Because even though his drumming is loud and grating and wakes the baby up, it is beautiful, too. Because he loves it. Because he was born loving it, like he was born having blue eyes.

 If something is truly a passion, don’t we make time for it? Don’t we sew in the basement when the kids are in bed? Don’t we jot down a few lines at a stop light before the words fall away? I am finding that the more time I make for writing, the more I want to do it. After a few meetings of a Portland Adult Ed writing class, the ideas are flowing faster than I can jot them down. And I am happier. I feel like there is something waiting for me; something that doesn’t require a fresh diaper or a snack. Something more like a lover I can’t wait to steal a few minutes with.

What aren’t you doing that you burn to do? Is there a way to fit a little bit into your day, to keep the coals warm?