January 2017 Passion is the petrol that keeps the engine of your life running. Its powerful energy is the secret behind success, achievement, and a joyous life. Suma Varughese explores how to achieve and retain this eminently desirable quality In March 2012, I went for a holiday to Kashmir, with two of my close friends, Harvinder Kaur and GL Sampoorna. We stayed with another close friend, Chitra Jha, one of Life Positive’s prolific writers. One afternoon, we went to Dachigam, a national park situated in the midst of Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, perhaps after Mumbai, the only city in India to host a national park. As Harvinder was unwell, only Sampoorna and I went, armed with an introduction to the director of the National Park, Naseer Ahmed. We caught him at a busy moment, and he sent us on our way to explore the beautiful park, which had a sanctuary for animals so tame that leopards would playfully nuzzle the hands of their keeper, or flop on the ground with their bellies exposed and paws dangling like giant tabbys, while massive Himalaya bears would rise on their hind legs, press themselves against the fence and grin at us. It was nearing dusk when Sampoorna and I returned and found Mr Ahmed free to attend to us. He was a slender man of average height, whose appearance I can’t quite recall. What I can recall though, and vividly at that, was the incandescent passion that gripped him when he mentioned his beloved national park. The man was familiar with every flora and fauna in the park. He took us in an open-air electric cart (the kind that you find in airports to drive you to the gates) all the way to a hilltop to show us not just the most staggering view of the city, but also some lichen that grew only when pollution was absolutely nil. He identified every leaf and blade of grass, and kept us enthralled with his stories of cavorting with Himalayan bears and other wildlife. He laughed and shared that he never, if he could help it, left his park and went into the city. But once his wife forced him to go to the dentist and there he was, a helpless babe, having to dodge traffic! By the time we tore ourselves away and were embarking on our return to the park office, night had fallen. Mr Ahmed continued to identify all sort of night sounds, when suddenly he paused and stopped the vehicle. Turning to us with his eyes afire, he said, “A langur is signalling that he is trapped on a tree with a leopard below. Shall we go and see?” Sampoorna and I blanched. Go out and look for a leopard in the dark when we could hardly see about us, and the undergrowth was full of twigs that would crunch and alert the leopard about our whereabouts long before we were alerted about its? We politely shook our heads and declined his invitation. Mr Ahmed was shattered. It was clear that there was nothing he would have loved more than to witness this wildlife drama, but he was too much of a gentleman to leave us alone. Long after we left him, the memory of his love for the wilds hung about us like a fragrance, and we came back to our homes vowing that the next time someone asked us to take a walk on the wild side, we would be prepared! How fortunate Mr Ahmed was to have identified his passion for wildlife, and to have found the perfect job to further it. Thomas Carlyle wrote, “Blessed is he who has found his work. Let him ask no other blessedness.” How fortunate too, to have unlocked his passion. A question of passion Not everyone can boast of passion. Wasn’t it Thoreau who said that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”? As a teenager I believed this to be true, because that was how I felt, but today I am not sure this applies to the majority. However, even if our lives don’t embody quiet desperation, how many of us can claim they embody passion? How many of us are afire with love of life every moment of the day? How many of us pour ourselves into everything we do? How many of us are consumed by a project, a person or a cause? Let’s face it, most of us just go through the motions, simply coping with the mountain of chores, duties and responsibilities we have to juggle every day, before we crash exhausted into bed. But that does not mean that passion is denied us in this lifetime. We too can lead a life of joy and brio; of passionate purpose that infuses our life with meaning and makes each moment a deep experience. What is passion? To start with the basics. What is passion? Passion is the power that drives us long after our energy forsakes us. It is what takes us back to the drawing board time and time again, until we finally have it right. It is what enables us to prop up our drooping eyes, straighten our slumping form and continue labouring into the night long after exhaustion has rung in. It is what enables us to climb mountains, discover continents, uncover the secrets of life and create enduring works of art. The script of excellence is written with the ink of passion. With passion as our partner, sooner or later success will be ours. Passion is the petrol that runs the engines of our lives. Without passion our lives sooner or later judder to a halt, or chug along lackadaisically. Among the millions of gifts life showers us with, passion is one of the choicest. Joseph Campbell rightly says, “Passion will move men beyond themselves, beyond their shortcomings, beyond their failure.” The reason why passion is such a power is that it is sourced in desire, and each of us is given the energy we need to attain any desire we may feel. Desire comes with an inbuilt energy pack. For instance, if a desire for a pizza consumes us and we have the money to pay for it, most of us will immediately call for it, or if we cannot get through, send someone to collect it, or if that fails and depending on how strong our desire is, we will go to the outlet ourselves. If we live beyond the reach of pizza, we will get around to making it. The same is true for a movie we want to see, or a book we want to read. And if we want to meet a lover, nothing on earth can stop us. Tulsidas, the poet saint who wrote the Rancharitramanas, was full of lust for his wife, Buddhimati. So much so that when she went to her parents’ house for a holiday, he followed her there late at night. It was a wild and stormy night and Tulsidas had to battle a raging river in spate which he did by the power of his passion. When he reached her home, he mistook a snake for a creeper and used its power to hoist himself into her room. The shocked Buddhimati looked at her dripping wet and panting husband and said reprovingly, “If you had half the passion for God that you have for this mortal body of mine which will soon fall prey to worms, you would surely attain enlightenment.” Stunned to the core of his being by the truth of what she said, Tulsidas turned on his heels and left her; he spent the next 14 years in sanyas, passionately immersed in his love for Lord Ram. Passion generates energy When his desire for his wife became converted to desire for liberation, Tulsidas’s energy pack magnified in proportion. Thus, when we live life passionately we have at our disposal an endless supply of energy, because the more energy we use to achieve our purpose passionately, the more becomes available to us. We tap into an inexhaustible source. My friend Leena Thakker, (58) a businesswoman living in South Mumbai, is one of the most passionate people I know. She once told me that she was a dedicated packer, and I got a glimpse of it when I went on a trip with her and saw the focus and attention with which she placed clothes and objects into her suitcase until she got the perfect symmetry she was looking for, even if it meant arranging and rearranging several times. “If I can’t give my 100 per cent to a task, I don’t do it until I find the time when I can,” she says. No mote of dust would dare enter her house, and if it did it would be summarily whisked away. Every nook and cranny is sparkling clean, her plants flourish in happy abundance, the drawers and cupboards in her house are arranged with absolute precision and cleanliness, her financial papers are always in order, and any time of the day or night, she has some task on hand. “I always have a to-do list that never seems to get over,” she admits. In 2011, after the passage of her father, Leena joined the company her father and his brother had founded, Monji Vishram, which manufactures balms. Within the next few years she meticulously, and with the same dedication and passion, worked on every aspect of the business. “Just like I nurture my plants in order to have them flourish, I nurtured the business by paying attention step by step to every area until I brought it alive,” she says. The changes included refurbishing the factory, renewing the electrical and civil work, redesigning it, converting the bottles from glass to plastic, revamping the packaging, introducing new machinery and raising production by double the number of bottles. In every sense she upped the standards of operation, which also infused enthusiasm and energy among her colleagues. Always a successful product, Leena’s passion and meticulous approach enabled her to optimise sales of the balm and lift up its success curve substantially. Leena’s passion stems from her innate capacity to care, to pour herself deeply into life. “I never feel bored. When I feel I have had enough of one thing, I change the activity,” she says simply. Maturing into passion For others, passion suddenly bursts out at a certain point in time, almost as a maturation activity. Sunny Malti Suresh was one of them. Sunny Pawar: Dedicatedly tending to his girl friend, Aarti (see inset) for four long years transformed him into a caring, compassionate person As a collegian, h
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