On Life, Death and the Importance of Passion

Challenge At Manele Lanai Hawaii

This is, after all, a personal web log – a blog. Yes, it is travel focused but it is also about me and my life. What happens to me necessarily impacts every other aspect of my life, so it’s with that in mind that I hope you’ll excuse yet another short meandering away from hotels and ancient temples to some recent events in my life. Ones that I feel are important to share and absolutely reverberate through my life and the decisions I have and will make.

Last week I lost the man I have long considered to be my father. He wasn’t my biological father, we didn’t grow up together, he never showed me how to ride a bike or throw a baseball, but he was a parent in every sense of the word. My partner’s father passed away suddenly and without warning on Labor Day while playing golf; an activity he enjoyed more than anything else in life.

He meant a great deal to me and of course my partner and it is a reminder not only how much I hate death and its consequences, but at how fragile life truly is. I’m not the first to make this weighty observation nor will I be the last, but the truth of this statement hit home in a way that it may not for many people.

My partner’s father was not old and infirmed, he was active and in the prime of his life. And yet, as he walked along the golf course, he died. There was no warning and nothing could have been done. It was tragic in every way, but especially for the violent rapidity of it all. But a week before he had made the now fateful wish to a friend, he wished that if he were to ever die, then he wanted to do it while enjoying his passion in life – golf.

To have and recognize one’s true passion in life is a relatively rare thing, but found it he did. All his life golf was an all-consuming passion, something he passed along to at least one of his children and a character trait everyone identified with him. It’s rare for an individual to accept their passion in life because so rarely is it easy to follow. Unless your passion is neurosurgery, it’s hard to make it our job. It is hard to incorporate that which we are most passionate about into our lives in any way that is meaningful – but it is so important that we try.

My own story dovetails this acceptance of passion. For more than a decade I trudged, as do so many others, at a job I hated just for a paycheck and some security. I ignored what was important in my life, I ignored my passion and all else suffered. I gained wait, I drank too much and I was spiritually bankrupt. It’s amazing the effect happiness, or the lack thereof, can have on one’s life, but it is always dramatic.

Through the loss of another family member several years ago I woke up and realized just how fleeting life is. Just how transient it is, a lesson far too many learn too late in life or not at all. It’s an oft quoted and pretty corny phrase, but life is not a dress rehearsal, and that’s true. We have one shot at life and we have to make sure we get it right.

It’s important to be there for our families and friends, but at some point we have to realize that it is equally important to be there for ourselves. I realized that when I accepted the passions in my life and took the first steps towards making them my new life. It wasn’t easy, it never is when honest emotions are involved, but it’s all so important. In my case, I’ve made it work. I’ve never been happier and I’ve never had a better sense of direction than I do now. Not by coincidence every other aspect of my life has improved. My relationship with my partner is better, I’ve lost weight, I’m more energetic and in general a much happier person. That’s what it means to pursue one’s true love in life and that’s the lesson I will take away from this horrible loss.

I’m not writing this post today as a eulogy or for people to feel sorry for my family and me. No, I’m writing this to help inspire people. To inspire them to start the process, if they haven’t already, of finding their true passions in life and to begin the process of making those passions part of their lives. Life is far too short, far too fragile to waste living a shadowy life, a life that is without importance or happiness. No matter what it takes, no matter the sacrifices, you have to, you just have to, live life for today and try to be the happiest and most passionate person you can be.

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

9 thoughts on “On Life, Death and the Importance of Passion”

  1. Sorry to you and your partner for your loss. It’s never easy…

    I couldn’t agree with your post more. I’m very thankful for the fact that I’ve found my passion and I’ve followed it. I was miserable working a 9-5 job, so I decided to just follow my dream and become a freelance journalist/writer. And even though it lacks the security of a conventional job, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

  2. Matt, condolences to you and your partner. But what an awesome view you’ve taken on your father-in-law’s legacy!

    Such awesome advice you give. I’ve tried to live this way my entire life. I learned a long time ago that pursuing our passions is not just a pipe dream, it’s something the Universe wants us to do–and helps us succeed at. My passions have always revolved around travel, food, theatre, and skiing, and I’m priveleged to have plenty of each in my life. People often tell me they’re envious of how I live my life; I tell them they have nothing to envy because every person is living the life they choose.

    Now in the middle of middle age, I find my interests (and energy level) drifting, and new passions and interests are arising. I am pursuing those with the same vigor as everything else I’ve done in life. I encourage every person to take such a path. It is richly rewarding, and will continue to be until the day I drop dead doing something I love.

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss, but happy your “other father” spent his time doing what he enjoyed – so many do not. Hang in there and let me know if there’s anything that I can do to help. Hugs to you both.

  4. Well said Matt. I quit my corporate job 7 months ago to try my hand at travel writing and blogging. All of the pieces have definitely not fell into place yet, but the act of reaching for my dream has improved my life, just as you mentioned in the post. I have less headaches, sore muscles and I am definitely in a much better mood. Thanks for the reminder of why I chose this path and motivation to keep pushing forward.

  5. I’m sorry for your loss, Matt, and thank you for writing something personal that relates to things we all must deal with. I have been thinking about this a lot lately because a friend from high school has been dealing with cancer, and she just passed away today. We all need the reminder to live for the moment since that’s all we really have.

  6. Great words Matt. I’m thinking about you with this recent loss. I think we all come to various forms of this realization at different stages of life. I’m pushing 40 and feel I’m in good health, but I look around and see so much changing. My son is almost 8. It seems like he was just born. My father isn’t doing well from a stroke a year and a half ago. Time really does fly. I’ve been moping a bit lately as a friend/coworker is moving to a different state and I realize the older I get the fewer true friends I have. And when your father has a stroke you know you’re in line for the same thing down the road. The more reminders like this I can read the better. Great stuff Matt.

  7. Thank you for writing this blog post. Last year, my partner’s father died of a brain tumor. He was diagnosed just before Christmas, at the age of 56, and we watched him slowly deteriorate until his passing in April. It was a huge wake-up call for us, and long story short, it became the launching point for us to pursue our dreams, which had been to take a year off to travel. We are currently two months into our RTW trip and loving every moment of it. Thank you for reminding us of the fragility of life, but more importantly, giving us inspiration to live our lives fully.

  8. You’re post is truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

    My condolences to you and your partner.

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