What are you passionate about?

Let me ask that again a little bit later, but keep that question in the back of your mind.

The understanding of such a simple word has been changing slowly since it was introduced into the english language to the point that the modern and old definition no longer even represent each other.  Think of the modern definition as a McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese coupled with a PBR, and the original definition as the meal I made for friends last night that got me thinking about passion.

I’ve been a part of numerous networking groups, read even more self help/guru books, listened to podcasts, and heard similar advice from about everyone.  They all say that to be successful in life you have to find something that you’re passionate about and pursue it.  Ok…they’ve basically negated the meaning of passion and substituted with an amalgamation of passion, desire, and vision.

They are saying find something wrapped around your self identity that gives you an internal drive.  Another way to say it is to find something that has meaning to you and do everything you can to monetize it.

How does that compare to one of the oldest uses of the word, the passion of Christ?

Have you thought about that.?

I’ve tried to wrap my head around the different ideas and internal drives that Christ had that he did everything he could to monetize them.  I’ve never been able to figure it out.  So what does passion actually mean?

All the origins of the word actually mean to suffer.  I’ve read numerous ideas that with Christ it meant to suffer to the point of death, which might be the most extreme use of it.  An internal suffering, or agitation tied to different emotions.

These thoughts stem from a conversation with a group of friends that we had not been able to enjoy their company for quite some time.  The conversation, as is usual with close friends, seemed to follow the retrogression of passion.

We had a beer, Stargate, from a wonderful little brewery in Denver, The Black Project.  The care, love, and passion that they use to brew and blend their beers is unparalleled.  From collecting the wild yeast on their roof, aging their beers in a wide array of barrels, masterfully blending different brews to make something truly unique, to doing their absolute best to ensure their lottery is totally random to sell their small batch brews.  In their own words,

STARGATE begins as a custom blend of 8-10 month old spontaneous solera sour golden base with 100% coolship caught wild microbes. We then added a heavy amount of whole fruit into two different types of whiskey barrels from our friends at Law’s Whiskey House. Freshly dumped barrels were filled with our base sour golden, then tart nectarines from the western slope were added to Bourbon whiskey barrels, while juicy Palisade peaches from our family’s orchard were added to the Rye whiskey barrels.

Refermentation and subsequent aging took place in these separate bourbon whiskey and rye whiskey barrels. After tasting the barrels apart and blended, we found that the fruit-forward rye whiskey and bourbon whisky complemented and showcased each fruit with more depth and complexity than the individual barrels alone. This blend works so well to balance the juicy peaches with tart nectarines, then adds an incredible complexity with the spice of the rye and rich vanilla, oak, and bourbon finish.”

As we started to eat, I was asked how I made the hamburgers so flavorful.  Something that I’m this level of passionate about it is cooking, food, and showing love through this craft.  I originally told them they didn’t want to know, but after some prodding I shared it with them.  I used grass fed beef which always has better flavor than grain fed beef.  I then inoculated it with a yeast from Japan, known as Koji.  Letting the yeast grow in the beef makes it tender and is a fast replication of dry aging.  If you let it grow for too long, it can cure the beef and and make it tougher.  Depending on the yeast you use, it can turn the beef flavor nutty, or even blue cheesy.  

I then made a special butter, cafe de paris, from scratch.  The list of ingredients that goes into this ingredient is insane.  Whipped butter, tarragon, thyme, dill, rosemary, marjoram, chives, garlic, onions, paprika, cayenne (or your preferred spicy pepper powder), curry, capers, anchovies, usually a sweet liquor (I don’t usually have those on hand so I use scotch or rum), Worcestershire sauce, orange zest, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  

I put an indention on one side of each burger and then seared both sides of the patties.  Once they were seared I filled the indention with the cafe de paris butter and put them on a pan and put them in the oven.  This way the butter could soak into and through the burger because the indention wasn’t seared.  As it went through the patties and pooled in the pan, the burgers continued to roast and semi fry in the butter.  

Something else my wife and I are passionate about is honest food.  Food that we know how was raised, where it comes from, etc.  And not for the hipster/Portlandia reasons.  We used local pork for the bacon on the burgers, stilton cheese from Europe (because more chemicals and pesticides are banned in Europe, and the artisans know their craft quite well resulting in a better cheese), and another local brew to make a stilton beer cheese sauce, heirloom tomatoes, craft mustards, avocados and mushrooms.  

Did you know that systemic racism is a problem with food?  Especially cheap, mass produced pork.  Did you know that slaves are still used throughout the United States?  We try our best to learn the types of food that support slavery and racism and then we don’t purchase their products.  

As the evening progressed the passion became stronger and the internal suffering or affliction became more apparent in all of us.  Children…raising them, and more specifically all of our children’s education, and community.  Now if you aren’t a parent yet, you don’t understand the internal anguish this can cause.      

We originally had our daughter enrolled in a Christian preschool and decided that at her age Christian education wasn’t as big as a factor to us as building community around our local school.  But we have started to reevaluate.  The preschool she is in is top notch for a public preschool and we have nothing but great things to say about it.  However, her teacher pulled as aside the other day and told us to not send her to this school for kindergarten and beyond, that she is too gifted for this school.  But what about the community that we are trying to build around the school?  Is building community and trying to change a current structure and culture in an established institution worth sacrificing my child’s education and potentially self image?    Talking with friends who have watched their children suffer socially trying to do so for 7 years have finally decided that no, it isn’t worth it any longer and are putting their children in a school that is beneficial for each of their children, and are willing to drive them each to separate schools so they can learn in their own style.  

We are looking for schools for our children to opt into within our current school district, and have met parents that are open to driving over 40 minutes each way to get their children into a “good” school.  We know people that spent 3 years to move into a certain neighborhood so their child could go to a specific school.  We are looking at the same things as well.  

Then the dynamics of Christian education vs public education, the age of the kid, what schools they will feed into, what to do if you can afford Christian elementary school, but not highschool, do you want your kid going to a high school with 5000 students, or a much more modest one of 2000 (which is still larger than the entire town I grew up in).  

Then came the other part of family.  As difficult as raising kids can be, dealing with family can make that feel like a leisurely  stroll through the park.  Discussing each of our shrinks that we visit in order to deal with issues from the past so that we can be better husbands/wives and fathers/mothers.  How to draw boundaries and enforce them.  

And what about friends?  Friends can be stronger than family, until family breaks that bond.  What then?

What we found out is that we are passionate about community.  That we can hurdle the obstacles of children, scale the ledges of family structures, and navigate the waters of friendship as long as we have a devoted community to help us.  When one group is a challenge the other group is there to walk step by step with you.  To ask questions that you haven’t, to gently guide you back to healthy relationship with that which is broke, to offer advice when needed, to be a shoulder to cry on, or a smile to depend on.

So what am I passionate about?  

I’m passionate about everything food, and allowing it to bring joy to others.  Using the table to hear others stories in order to better understand them, their desires, passions, and needs.

I’m passionate about joyfully blessing others, seeking community, and having my foundation of reality be abundance instead of scarcity.

I’m passionate about my family, my wife, and my kids.

What are you passionate about?

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