By Mary Boutieller
When we follow our passion, share our gifts and listen to our hearts, we are rowing the boat that is meant for us.
Have you ever wondered why some things resonate with you and some just don’t capture your interest? Do you ever find yourself unenthusiastic about a friend’s passion project and wonder why you can’t rally to the occasion? I’ve wondered this myself, especially when a friend or group I know are working hard on something and want my involvement. I know a couple who are passionate about fly fishing and could talk about it for hours. Their eyes light up as they explain about rods and reels, fish and techniques. And when I listen to them, I’m excited for them…but have no interest in it myself. It’s just not “my thing.”
I’m curious about a lot of things, and truly interested in some things; however, there is a difference between curiosity and passion. And it is in this distinction where I find that it either feels like work, or my energy flows effortlessly toward it. For example, have you ever been lost in a project, forgotten the time and worked well beyond when you thought you would? I see it in my husband when he is building something or playing music…time seems to stand still and the world stops spinning for a while. We’ve all had these experiences. Maybe it’s when we are with our families, or at work, or getting lost in an enthralling book…maybe it’s fly fishing.
Recently, I read an article by journalist Carrie Seidman, in which she talked about an elderly man named Joe who credited his mother for his “daily—and lifelong—commitment to making the world a better place for the less fortunate.” Joe said that his mother would always ask him what he’d been up to. He would answer her, and then she would say, “Well, OK, but what are you going to do tomorrow? Are you rowing or are you just sitting in the boat?”
Sometimes, in life, we move forward, and sometimes we sit back and wait for the thing, the project, the idea, that gets us going again. We search along the circuitous path for the one that has our name on it. And each time we follow our passion and share our gifts and listen to our hearts, we find it. We are rowing the boat—the boat that is meant for us.
Imagine, if you will, a harbor filled with boats—some moored at the dock, and some out at sea. And imagine if each boat carried a different cause in which you were interested. One boat might be about cleaning up our neighborhoods, one about climate change, another about equality, and yet more about hiking or biking or singing. If I were to spend time in each and every one of those boats, I would get exposed to a number of things, but my energy and ability to make a difference would be diluted because some of those boats are really intriguing, and some are just not for me. So maybe I step into one boat, check it out and see if it resonates; then, I step into another. Eventually, if I trust myself and stop worrying about what others might think, I will figure out where my passions lie. I will figure out what I am meant to do in the world.
And it’s not an “all or nothing” proposition! Maybe there are causes that you can be a part of in your own way. If you love to volunteer, pick a group that makes you smile. If you want to maintain a hiking trail, do what you can do, not what you think others expect of you. Honor your abilities, trust yourself, and be willing to do your part with love and enthusiasm and truth—the truth of who you are and what strengths you bring to the table. And let others do the same.
I used to think that if I was giving 100 percent, then everyone else around me should be giving 100 percent. And I thought that I should be giving 100 percent—100 percent of the time! I was hard on myself and sometimes hard on others. When I was working at the fire department, I had a lieutenant who would say, “Remember Mary, never squash initiative.” It’s taken me years to realize that anything we can do to help is a step in the right direction. We can only give what we have within ourselves, and we can only do that if we feel we’ve stepped into the right boat and have the support of those around us.
There is a middle ground, a happy place, between doing nothing (sitting in the boat) and doing someone else’s 100 percent—rowing a boat that isn’t yours to row. Find your boat, and then go for it. Bring your passion, your love, and your own unique self. The world will be a better place because of you. And remember this too, you will change and so will the things that you are passionate about. Be willing to move on and explore. You never know where it will take you.
Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.