It appears that I have fallen in love with the mandolin. This was no overnight love affair, however. It kind of sneaked up on me.
As a longtime fan of the music of Antonio Vivaldi, I had heard my share of mandolins and associated the instrument with music from the past.
That all began to change when I attended a performance of Prairie Home Companion and heard the amazing Peter Ostroushko play. Nevertheless, I wasn’t ready to commit.
Then it happened. A few years later on the weekly broadcast of PHC, Ostroushko performed the most glorious piece, something he’d written to celebrate a friend’s wedding. I didn’t remember the name of it, but when I saw he had a new CD, I decided to take a chance.
Sure enough, The A and A Waltz was included. It’s been the soundtrack in my car ever since.
I’ve been thinking about this slow love affair quite a bit. I suspect that when many of us hear about passion, we have a vision of being gob-smacked by something that grabs us by the shoulders and won’t put us down. Love at first sight, perhaps.
I don’t think it works that way. In fact, other than the births of my daughter and my grandchildren, I can’t recall any other times when passion was present from the first moment.
More often, it creeps up, like the mandolin, but it doesn’t come at all unless we expose ourselves to new experiences and possibilities.
Passion isn’t passive; we have to get involved.
One way of doing that, of course, is to pay attention to the passions of others. People we love dearly and admire genuinely may very well have passions that leave us cold.
On the other hand, passionate people may get our attention simply because of their contagious enthusiasm.
Opening ourselves to things that delight others may deliver lovely surprises we hadn’t anticipated. At the very least, we’ll benefit from the power of enthusiasm that raises our own positive attitude simply by being present.
At the same time, we need to notice when a passion has passed its sell-by date. It’s extremely easy to spend time doing things out of habit because we failed to notice that passion has fled.
Sometimes when you partake in a longtime activity and find it no longer amuses or informs or entertains, you’ll begin to feel a bit of disappointment, as if you’d been jilted.
Remember that some passions simply have a longer run than others. Just as closets need to be weeded from time to time, so do the activities that are worth our time and attention.
Whether that passion is for music, art, cars, food, gardens, social justice or any one of a thousand other things, ultimately passion invites us to become more, to do more, to be more. Eventually those enthusiasms infiltrate other areas of our lives.
“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings,” Elizabeth Gilbert reminds us. Passion is a pointer to where those blessing can be found.
When the mandolin plays or the antique doll at the flea market catches your eye, pay closer attention and see where it leads. Give it time and see if it grows into something spectacular.
And if that doesn’t happen, keep looking. Just don’t insist on love at first sight.