Sunday, March 29, 2009

About Passion

Spent a couple of days at Foo East, an invitation-only event in Cambridge, hosted by O'Reilly Media (my employer) and Microsoft. The companies provided the facilities and the food; the 140+ attendees created the schedule and the sessions, which ranged from discussions on the future of journalism to a compelling demo of a new online information resource to making bath bombs (bath fizzies, essentially), and lots, lots more.

Now, I am not fond of being in the midst of a large group of people. I find it hard to connect with anyone in that atmosphere. I imagine that if the attendees and topics had been more closely related to design, visual art, and literature, I would have found a toehold somewhere. Instead, while everyone else at Foo East was making new connections and talking animatedly about new technologies and potentialities, I found myself reduced to serial "Wow, that's great onion dip" moments. By the end of the second day, I was sitting alone at the edge of the crowd, exhausted, patting a very friendly dog someone had brought along. What a relief!

While I patted the dog, I listened to the conversations around me and watched people interact. What struck me about this group of Very Smart People was not their superior intelligence or some of their "look at me" personal styles. It was their passion, which illuminated everything they turned their attention to. It didn't matter what they were talking about—what was compelling was their absolute belief in and commitment to whatever it was they were championing. They leaned into their conversations, their voices full and confident as they spoke, their expressions rapt as they listened to each other. The huge space was bright with their energy.

Driving home, I thought about the things I'm passionate about. They tend to be private pursuits these days, although I'll argue the merits of the Oxford comma with great intensity, with anyone, anytime.

I was once immensely passionate about everything I did. The flame doesn't burn nearly as bright these days. Not sure if that's a phase or a permanent change. Time will tell.


1 comment:

Jeff said...

My vote is passing phase... the girl I knew in high school had passion and enthusiasm enough for all of us. I think she still does...