Last night I was at a great dinner party and met a few new people. When I meet new people I always want to ask them what their passion is. It might be what they do for a living or it might not. But passion is what makes people tick. It is what sustains us, brings us joy and gives our life purpose and meaning. Asking people what their passion is opens a doorway into their soul and of course people love talking about their passions.
For me, loving animals is part of my passion…but it isn’t the whole deal. Teaching and motivating others is also a great passion of mine. I seem to have found it in the process of helping people understand their animals better and helping them to take better care of their animals.
It’s an interesting thing how what we learn about our animals easily translates into what we need to know about our selves and apply to our own lives. I think that is why God gave us the animals as companions…to be our teachers and motivators. To help us live our lives fully and to help us realize the importance of finding our passion.
The animals have passions too. That is the really cool piece I have learned. Some are obvious. Hanna has a passion for chasing squirrels. She will watch out the window for hours waiting for a glimpse of the little furry guy grabbing an acorn and scurrying off to his hidden nest. She erupts into passionate barking and whining. I’m tempted to let her outside to run after that little guy (I’m pretty sure she won’t catch or harm him). She wears her passion out where all can see it…and it borders on obsession.
Smokey’s passion (my Tennessee Walking Horse) is a little less obvious. Unless you’ve been with him a while or talked to him you might not know that his passion is being in his herd with his leader…and his mares. Smokey loves his mares and takes his role in the herd very seriously. This is really apparent when another horse is added to the herd and he takes it upon himself to see that order is not lost.
I used to think that showing horses was something we did for us, and that the horses hated it. Smokey was a product of the Big Lick show circuit in Tennessee and has scars on his legs from the cruel treatment he received. When he came into my life I promised him he would never have to be in a show again. Well that was true for Smokey, but not true for all horses.
Several years back I was doing a communication demonstration at a very fancy barn where they were holding a big open house celebration of the breed. I went there with my assumption that the show horses would be sad. I have experienced that from show horses who were kept indoors for 22 of 24 hours a day. But here, the story was different. First, this owner knew her horses needed to have pasture time and they got plenty. But what really surprised me was when I started talking to the horse for my demonstration. He told me not all show horses hate showing…and that I needed to lose my attitude and be more open ;-). He loved showing, it was his passion, he knew he was really good at it (and he was) and he told me others feel that way too. He did also tell me that how the person approaches it makes a big difference…but that many horses loved to show off their athletic abilities. And it is true. I have met many animals that find their passion in something they excel at…or is it they excel at it because it is their passion?
My cat Red is passionate about catching birds. I know many hate to hear this…but it is true. He catches mice and moles too but he tells me there is no challenge in that. He is passionate about the birds because they are a challenge to him and really demonstrate his skills. They can fly away in a second so he finds it really exciting to know that he can be faster and more swift than this creature with wings.
One of my very good clients has a dog that is passionate about herding. He lives to herd. You could say it is his instinct…and it is but it is also his passion. If you took this dog and did not allow him to herd the sheep or find another herding outlet my guess is he would become depressed or ill. When we are cut off from our passion whether we are animals or human animals we wither. We need to feed the passion just as we need to feed our bodies. The more we feed ourselves and our animals with the passion that sustains us the more alive, vibrant and healthy we will all be.
Do you know what your companions’ passion is? Do you know what your passion is? Look to that which either of you can do for hours and not even think about it. You become absorbed and everything else fades away. This will give you some clues. And if you know what your passion is…what your animal’s passion is, engage in it; embrace it. Your passion will set both of you free.