Passionate Though Penniless

Yesterday I enjoyed a quiet lunch with a man who confessed he was miserable. “I’ve never found my passion,” he said, “and I fear it’s too late.”

He wasn’t that much older than me. As a child, he dreamed of being G.I. Joe. But by the time he grew up, those boyhood dreams were forgotten. Now at middle age, he looked back at the terrain of his life and realized he had spent the past 30 years building great wealth at the expense of great passion.

How could someone feel empty and meaningless with an abundance of money, prestige, and good fortune?

My story was the polar opposite of his. As I child, I dreamed I’d live next door to Snoopy and raise my family while writing and illustrating books. When I was 19, I moved next door to Snoopy’s Ice Arena. I married and had two children. I’ve written several books and painted many canvases. But I never made enough money to quit my day job or replace my 15 year old car or remodel my fixer-upper house. I had plenty of passion, although I was penniless.

My problems, however, paled in comparison to the lonely man sitting across from me. I could find a way around the financial potholes, but the man before me could not summon the spirit of adventure he had lost since boyhood. Money can always be made, but passion cannot be manufactured. No matter how much I shared the adventures of living in the land of the passionate though penniless, the man before me could not enter the circle of believing. He just stood outside the edges, full of fear and longing of who he so desperately wanted to become.