Choose the Right Fuel for Your Passion

Checking the bees is a delightful chore.

I grab my hive smoker and matches. Last month, I ran out of the small wooden pellets, the fuel for my smoker. Now I use pine needles — thin, dry, and combustible. Great for starting a fire and getting thick, white smoke right away.

Moments after striking the match, flames leap high. I close the lid and the bellowing smoke begins to fill the entire backyard. After smoking the entrance of the hive, I pop the cover and puff twice, letting the smoke works its magic for a minute.

I open the lid again and commence my hive check.

Choose the Right Fuel (for your smoker)

One frame I pull out is covered in bees. The next, even more so. Half way through the hive, I’m trying to place a frame back into the box. The frame, now mere centimeters over the hive, slips through my oversized gloves and lands with a thud. Despite moving steady and calmly the entire time, the bees could feel the slight movement.

And they let me know.

Upset bees start flying around and hitting my veil. I step away to grab my smoker to calm them down. Puffing, waiting for smoke. Nothing. I had filled the smoker to max capacity with pine needles. What happened?

I open the lid and peer in. Ash and a few glowing embers are all I see. The pine needles had been consumed by the flames, vaporizing in the intense heat. Leaving me with an empty smoker and angry bees.

Now if I wanted a consistent, albeit less volume of smoke, I would have used better fuel. Despite giving me a big fire and quick results, the pines needles were not reliable or long-lasting. I needed a slower and steadier burn.

Choose the Right Fuel (for your passion)

I am known to be intrigued by everything. It doesn’t matter if the subject is growing shiitake mushrooms, making music in GarageBand, or baking sourdough bread — I want to know about it. I need to know the process, how it works, and why.

A healthy dose of curiosity is good. But what I do next is not.

I’ll jump into something I’m fascinated by. This is exciting! Then I give my new passion the wrong fuel. I give it pine needles. The combustible fuel of obsessing, trying it out — and before you know it, I’m moving on to something else with the same level of curiosity and bad fuel.

If I want to pursue a passion, and give it all I have, then I need to choose the right fuel. I need to use the logs of:

  • Grit
  • Courage
  • Time
  • Commitment
  • Patience

Playing the long game — slow and steady — is hard. I want lots of fire and smoke. Quick results. Passion becomes a destination I must reach and conquer, and the faster I get there, the better.

But this is not “passion”. Passion is not a destination. It should be something I do because I love it. Something I can’t help but do despite whatever challenges come with it. And because I love this passion so much, I’m willing to give it my time, commitment, and patience — aka., better fuel.

In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert boils down the essence of passion to its most elemental question:

So the question is not so much, “What are you passionate about?” The question is, “What are you passionate enough about that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of the work?”

If you can answer the second question, you’re half way there. You know what you are passionate about it and what drives your engine. The only thing left is to feed the flames with logs of grit and time.

And relax. Enjoy yourself. This is your passion! Do it because you love it.

“Checking the bees” should always be that magical paradox — a delightful chore.

4 replies on “Choose the Right Fuel for Your Passion”

“Passion is not a destination. It should be something I do because I love it. Something I can’t help but do despite whatever challenges come with it.” Exactly! Great post, Samuel. It really got me to think about my passions and what drives them! 🙂

The second question is arduous and it embarrasses me. But this reveals a step that, once I manage to achieve this laborious and “boring” process within what I like, will bring great results, even unexpected ones. This reminded me of Peter: “And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness.”
Choosing the good fuel teaches me to value and realize total dependence on the Creator.

Thank you Jonathan! Every thing in life, even the things we’re passionate about, have aspects that are boring to it. But yes, it really does take patience to work through it.

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