Passion Play
Photo courtesy Jeremy Bishop

My date and I had just finished a quiet, candlelight dinner for two. Afterward, we stood on the boardwalk overlooking a beautiful full moon glistening off of silvery waves.

We stood, wrapped in each other’s arms, listening to the crashing of the surf for several minutes in total silence. I peered into his eyes as he looked out over the ocean and I saw a look of total joy and passion. I snuggled closer into his arms as he said, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

“MMmmmmmmmmmm”, I answered.

Still holding me close, he said, “The waves, I mean. I’ve never seen them this good since I’ve lived in Florida. I can’t wait until morning so I can go surfing again.”

I chuckled to myself as he continued on about tides and currents and offshore winds. And at that moment, I realized what I’ve always found so attractive about surfers. It’s not their golden tans or their sun streaked hair. Its not their well-toned bodies from the rigors of their dedication to the sport. What is so attractive is the fact that they have something that they are just so PASSIONATE about.

If you’ve lived in Florida for very long, you probably know at least one avid surfer. I mean the kind who will postpone their plans and obligations like school, work or dates with the special people in their life if the surf is good. I also mean the kind who chart the hurricanes, not with fear of what damage will befall their homes, but with the childlike anticipation of the great waves that the storms may bring.

That night, for the first time in my life, I was almost jealous of that feeling. My jealousy wasn’t caused by the fact that my gentlemen friend felt that passion for the waves instead of me. (Well, maybe it was just a little bit.) But what I was most jealous of was the fact that, at that time in my life, I didn’t think I had anything that caused me to feel that kind of passion.

As he continued to expound on the virtues of long boards versus short boards, the different types of waves, his respect (not fear) of sharks, etc, I realized that I had somewhere along the line allowed my own enthusiasm for life’s pleasures to wane. So my thoughts started drifting to times when I had felt that kind of joy and excitement and passion so I could figure out how to get it back.

When I went to Paris one Christmas,  I felt that feeling around every turn. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the fabulous works of art and architecture that were EVERYWHERE; The elaborate mechanical storefront displays that all the stores setup for the season, and the beautiful, bundled-up rosy-cheeked French children with their faces pressed against the glass as they watched the displays of moving Santas and elves and reindeer; The light sprinkling of snow that appeared and blanketed the streets of Paris on the last day of my trip, making the whole city look like a beautiful Christmas card that had been created especially for me.

My first experience wilderness camping was filled with awe and passion and excitement. The wonders and the slight trepidation of experiencing moose and deer and elk and other wild animals in their native habitat. The adventure of cooking over a campfire, bathing in a cold mountain stream, or heating water on a campfire to wash my hair. The pure wonder of observing an eagle build his nest, or seeing a baby bear scamper up a mountain or finding out that out there in the west there are still such things as entire herds of horses that are born and live and thrive in the wild…majestically and powerfully and beautifully.

The joys of sailing used to excite my passions. Finding that exact balance of making the wind your ally instead of your rival as you raise the main and tighten the jib and feel the boat tip precariously towards the water as you surge forward with the grace of a bird in flight. Sleeping on a sailboat under the stars with the gentle rocking of the water, the moist salty smell of the sea breeze, and the incredible view of what seems like MILLIONS more stars than have ever been in the sky before.

Riding a horse through the wilderness was always pretty exciting. The power and strength of the animal beneath me and the beauty all around somehow made me feel closer to nature than a mere hike or car ride can. And the fear and excitement of riding a horse as he picks up his pace from a walk to a trot to a full, all-out gallop is an incredible feeling. It has to be as exciting as anything any surfer has ever felt from any wave, hurricane produced or otherwise.

As my date continued to talk, my thoughts continued to wander. And more and more little things that incite my passions came to my mind. Like watching a wonderful play or hearing a favorite musician, holding a baby, being creative, looking closely at nature, reading great books, learning, laughing. And sometimes even crying, if it’s done when you are sharing the great depths of life with family and friends.

My date, who was now talking about Hawaii and Costa Rica and other great surfing locales, hardly noticed as I slipped out of his arms and leaned against the railing, staring out at the moon. I reached into the restaurant doggie bag I was holding and pulled out a fork and a little slice of heaven – keylime pie. One of my favorites. And as the exotic delicate flavor danced across my tongue I realized how truly blessed and lucky I have always been. Unlike my surfer friend who was at the mercy of the weather and the tides and geography to experience what seemed like his one and only passion, my passions are around me every day. They are as close as a look at a starry sky; as close as shared laughter with a family member or friend; or as close as the wisdom that made me realize that no matter how good looking that sexy surfer guy was, to him, I would never be able to compete with the sea.

Maybe surfers have to get that excited about good waves because they are so rare….so few and far between. But the most excitement I had that night was when I realized that when it comes to the sea of things in my life that I am passionate about, the surf is always up!! Oh yeah. I also learned that when a surfer is lost in talking about his sport, he doesn’t even notice if you eat his share of the pie.

Leave a Reply