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Text by: Jacque Crosswell Watene

Dear Polite Society Reader,

As I have mentioned before, I hail from a rather large family (11 children total… I'm the eldest of nine brothers and one little sister). We are all very great friends now, but as you may well imagine, with so many personalities so close together, there was quite a bit of teasing that went on in our household as we grew up. I remember one day, when we were teenagers, one of my brothers thought he would express his creativity in the form of paint and brush. He worked for hours, painstakingly painting over an old poster that hung on his bedroom wall. When we saw his finished opus, I am ashamed to admit that we gave him a terrible time about it. We teased him for days on end about what he had painted, and now that I look back on it, the teasing probably came from our own insecurities. For on this poster, amid slashes of brilliant pinks, reds, and teals, were the words "What's Your Passion?" My poor brother! I don't think he could ask for someone to pass the potatoes at our dinner table without some smart aleck responding, "What's your passion? Butter or gravy?"

Since that time, I have thought of those words almost on a daily basis. They ring in my mind, and I can vividly recall the exact way each letter was painted, along with the jagged heart (an almost melancholy, aching looking heart) and slashes strewn artlessly here and there. "What's Your Passion?" I ask myself in the silent recesses of my own jagged, often melancholy heart.

Some of us don't have the foggiest idea what we are passionate about, and yet there are others who have known clearly what they wanted their lives to be about since the age of three. Some of us are just on the cusp of figuring out our own innate creativity, and some of us are well-seasoned "artists" of our own lives. But what exactly is passion? Joss Whedon, an American screenwriter, producer, and creator of such shows and films as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Toy Story," and "Angel," has this to say about it:

Passion, it lies in all of us... sleeping... waiting... and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir, open its jowls, and howl. It speaks to us, guides us... passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love... the clarity of hatred... and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we'd know some kind of peace, but we would be hollow, empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion we'd be truly dead.

Do you agree? After all, isn't passion what drives you to make dinner for your family every night? (I had a hard time with this one at first, too, because making dinner can seem so monotonous, not quite... what's the word? Passionate.) Well look at it like this. . . maybe it's not necessarily passion for cooking as much as it is a passion for keeping your loved ones happy, healthy, and fed. And what about the person who has just received devastating news about their health? It's passion for life that drives them to fight like hell to overcome the illness, or even just to enjoy every last moment they have to spend in human form. There's passion in almost everything we do, every act we perform. There is passion in holding hands, reading a fabulous novel, writing a fabulous novel, writing a horrible novel, writing, brushing and styling your hair, choosing which clothes will best express you for the day, biting into a crisp apple, feeling the petals of a flower against your cheek, a kiss goodnight, a kiss good morning, a kiss, coloring with a child, petting an animal, planting a garden, working, quitting, making your bed, because it makes you feel like you've accomplished a lot more than you really have at 6:30 in the morning. The point is, there can be passion in every part of lives, great or small. Every single thing we do can be done with passion.

In this issue of Polite Society Magazine, we ask you, "What's Your Passion?" What drives you to do all you do each day? What makes your heart beat a little faster? Your breath quicken? Do you even know? When was the last time you asked yourself what you are passionate about? And why is it so important to know? Because passion makes life bearable. Passion gives us reason, cause, and energy to accomplish whatever we desire, whether it is a home-cooked meal or a billion dollar business venture. Passion motivates. Passion screams, but it also whispers, encourages, drives. I have to agree with Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, German philosopher and inventor, who once said, "Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion."

So allow me to ask you just once more, what's your passion?