I met an older man this week at a work event who was telling a few colleagues and myself about his foundation he started to mentor young men. Unfortunately, he did not continue (or took an extended break from) mentoring because of negative feedback and what he explained as “red tape” from the school administrators. To my surprise, he called it a “past passion.” Perhaps, I was surprised that this Black man/businessman/gentleman allowed himself to be discouraged enough to put his passion on hold for decades. He stopped doing something he loved to do because of other people’s opinions.
The conversation led me to thinking about how many Black boys could have benefited from his tutelage (or a mentor in general); about how many young men could have been encouraged to follow their dreams by being in his program if it had continued; about how many young Black men in this city would have become successful entrepreneurs. Then, I got to wondering about whether people will benefit from anything I have to offer. Is my passion enough to encourage someone else to pursue their own?
I have had some people tell me flat out that my style of poetry was not good enough; that my opinions expressed in my writing were wrong. On the flip side, there have been many people to tell me that they understood or were able to relate to my words. Many of the poems that those naysayers said were not good enough have been the same poems to connect me with some really great people.
As I am collecting pieces for my next book, I have realized that every poem was constructed as a result of a personal need; When I needed to heal myself of some particular situation or event, I wrote to gain closure. When I was excited about giving birth to my daughter, I wrote her poems and letters. Of course there were times in my life when I did not have the words to write, but they eventually came.
I cannot imagine passion as something that has the ability to leave or fade. True passion is usually a sensation that forces us into action. True passion is something we need to perform in order to stay true to ourselves. What is a past passion that you are allowing to lie dormant? What is stopping you from taking that next step–besides you deciding not to move forward?