“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
We hear this message a lot. We hear it from graduation speakers and authors of self-help books. We hear it from celebrities like Oprah and Steve Jobs. “Follow our passions. Do what you love.”
Rarely, however, do we see tangible examples of people who have, in Thurman’s words, “come alive.”
The examples we are shown of people pursuing their passions are often the most visible members of society – successful entrepreneurs, movie stars, high ranking politicians.
We see the pop star fulfilling his dream or the Olympian winning gold.
We celebrate these people. We tell our children to dream big. With enough work, they too could play in the big leagues or be elected President.
But there is a disconnect. By the time young adults are ready to enter the work force, the cultural norms are different. Make money. Save wisely. Put in your forty years, and you have the prospect of a golf-filled retirement.
Some people have the natural gifts and work ethic to turn their childhood dreams into careers – the rest of us are told to pursue whatever career allows us to pay the bills.
But passion is not reserved for sports stars and CEOs. Passion is a part of all of us. Passion makes life exciting – it drives us to get up, to create, to make an impact on the world. Passion pushes us to do better, to work harder. Passion does not require wealth or power. Passion requires enthusiasm and joy.
This blog is designed to tell the stories of ordinary people – of gym teachers and fire fighters, of artists and community organizers. Their passion empowers them to do great work and to live meaningful lives. Their names may never appear on the front page, but they are worthy of praise.
This blog is not a collection of “how-to’s”, it is a collection of stories. These stories offer another narrative to the American Dream. They place fulfillment above affluence and stress the accumulation of experiences over the accumulation of wealth. In a world of excess, they offer an alternative.
By sharing the stories of ordinary people pursuing a wide range of passions, I hope to document a seldom told story of our existence and to push back on the notion that passion is reserved for the privileged.
I hope you enjoy!
– Nick Fogel, September 2014