If You Find Your Passion, You'll Find Your People
Written By: Mark Smith
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Abandoned as a child, Antwone Fisher had a recurring dream of being led by the hand by a middle aged woman with a beautiful smile into a barn filled with his true family members for a feast of delectable pancakes. If you have seen the movie "Antwone Fisher" you had to be deeply moved by Antwone's abiding thirst to find his place in the world. In his book Finding Fish he wrote about the fulfillment of this dream: "In 1992 the ultimate dream came to pass - I found my family and I found myself. I unearthed the buried treasure of who I was and had always been; the inheritance of family, of shared traits and shared blood."
The search for true family and belonging is deeply rooted in us all. We long to go to a place where everyone knows your name, to quote the Cheers song. Yet it isn't always with biological family members that we find our most powerful sense of family. Families of choice can be built. They are usually built around our passions. What passions define you? Have you found the family that with a little effort and some risk taking comes as a package deal with your passions? My column this week could very well be entitled "community building 101".
When my wife began running a few miles a week with a friend 10 years ago she could not have imagined how it would change her life. She now lives, eats and breathes running and she has made a huge gang of wonderful running friends. "Runners are good people." she says.
I had a life changing experience this weekend that fits along these lines. In recent years I've had a burgeoning interest in writing. While I've had little training to go along with even less discernable talent it has none the less become a passion of mine. For the most part I've muddled along by myself in this pursuit. Then this weekend I was blessed with an opportunity to attend a writer's workshop. For me the experience felt very similar to Antwone Fisher's dream. I was lead by the hand into a great banquet barn room filled with grandparents, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, siblings, and cousins in the craft and art of writing. We dined with great enthusiasm on scrumptious pancakes of great literature, poetry, writing tips, humor, encouragement, and practical insight into the business of writing. I didn't meet a single person that I didn't like. I felt as if I had found my people. Writers are a friendly, creative and supportive bunch. Perhaps that it because becoming a writer who actually gets paid is such a difficult process that we need all the encouragement that we can get. I wish that each of you could experience that wonderful sense of destiny and belonging that I was able to taste over the weekend. One night my special group of six called "Its OK to Lie" (for reasons unknown to myself) stayed up late drinking beer, singing, playing the guitar and laughing. I hadn't had so much fun in a long time. We have carried out community on in cyberspace with the help our new Blog. Technology has really made community building so much easier.
One of the joys of my life is playing basketball. I've made countless great buddies through the years as we've celebrated our shared passion together. We've developed an e-mail list that keeps us close and connected. Actually, now that I think about it, it is mostly used to ridicule me, but that's another story.
So, where is your defining, comfortable place in the world where everybody knows your name? Is it your church, the bowling alley, your gym, a local watering hole, or your neighborhood? When asked by my single clients how they can go about meeting people I always suggest joining a club built around an interest. Take up cycling, join a book club, take a cooking class, learn to play bridge, learn a new language, take a travel tour with a group, buy a Harley or hang out at a "bark park". It doesn't matter what you choose, there are wonderful communities built around it that would be thrilled to have you in the fold.
Get out there. Fan the flames of an interest into a consuming fire of a life altering and enriching passion. Then make some friends. Build a close knit community around the things that you love to do the most. Don't be shy. Just ask a new acquaintance about the hobby you share with them and within minutes you will have made a new and fascinating friend. That's all for now.
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