A while ago, I didn’t think I had a passion. I would sit in front of the TV all day and not think about anything except the next show. I thought a passion was for fanatics with nothing better to do than obsess over a hobby. At that time, I didn’t know how important having a passion is to existence. It makes it easier to survive, knowing there is one thing to rely on - there’s one thing to think of each day for motivation and comfort.
There are so many passions, but no matter how big or small the activity, its meaning in our lives never changes. Whether one loves playing a sport, listening to music, or coming home to their children, the important thing is the satisfaction and joy derived from the activity.
My first encounter with this knowledge was in seventh grade. My sister, Amy, had a ballet rehearsal and I went with my mom to drop her off. I was bored and wanted nothing more than to go home. Then, as my mom stopped at a red light, someone caught my eye. It was a man dressed in rags standing on the side of the road. It wasn’t the fact that he was homeless that interested me, for I had seen many like him before. But in some way he was different. This man was not sitting down with a sad and hopeless expression. He was standing waving his hands and doing a half-dance, swaying and stomping his feet. He had an expression of pure delight. He held a radio like it was the most precious item he had.
Seeing all this surprised me. “Mom, why does that man have a radio even though he’s homeless?” I asked, not expecting much of an answer.
“He bought it,” she replied, focusing on the traffic. I was still puzzled.
“But if he’s homeless, why doesn’t he use his money to buy shelter or clothes? He wasted his money on something he doesn’t need. He should buy food.”
“Well, Sarah, sometimes food isn’t the most important thing. Music can be food for the soul. Food and shelter aren’t the only things we need. People need happiness to stay alive, too.”
I wasn’t expecting such a profound response and thought about what I had just seen. That man must care enough about music to buy a radio instead of food or clothes. Maybe my mom was right. I had never thought about bliss in depth, but I soon realized that happiness is a key to existence. If one lives in sadness, there’s nothing to keep one moving from day to day. That’s how essential a passion is. It provides the happiness on which every person thrives.
Since those few moments of seeing that scene, I’ve never gone a day without thinking of what’s truly important. A home, a meal, a piece of clothing: those are only parts of the picture. Now I realize that I’ve had passions all along, but never recognized their significance in my life. They were invisible hopes that I relied on without knowing. What’s often forgotten, and I had forgotten this myself, is that we all need a joy, a light in a dark day. We all need a passion.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.