Tag Archives: passion

Passion of Purpose

Who are you?

It’s a serious question. Beneath the façade of style and guile, what is your name? Do you have a spirit name? Do you have a spirit identity?

Note: We have been exploring twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD and other past stress. August contemplates Vision.

Vision as an indigenous cosmology is a complex concept with purpose at its core.

When we find ourselves devoid of passion and purpose, the first thing we need to do is stop. But that’s not easy. The rest of the world is zooming by at full speed. Left alone with ourselves, without a project to occupy us, we can become nervous and self-critical about what we should be doing and feeling. This can be so uncomfortable that we look for any distraction rather than allowing ourselves the space to be as we are. (Dawna Markova)

I am a teacher and Nancy is a nurse. We are blessed to be people who have found careers of purpose matching our passions. We have lived our identities. We are lucky.

But, luck needs help. Neither of us found our way accidentally. We wandered. We made choices. I found I enjoyed teaching in graduate school and as an Academic Staff Specialist at UW-Madison. Nancy found she enjoyed taking care of people as an Army medic and a nursing aid. Still, each of us needed a personal crisis to push us to a decision and we needed family to coach that decision. Sooner or later, we all need coaching.

Some of us make major life decisions as children and adolescents that steer our lives by passion. Many of us begin a life of purpose and developing identity. Too many of us experience trauma that disrupts that development.

In 1968 I was a science student accepted into graduate school to study genetics at UW-Madison. I had a research assistantship offer. In three or four years I could be a PhD geneticist and maybe a professor.

In 1969 I went to Vietnam.

Trauma has a way of changing who we are—or, at least, who we think we are. It has a way of changing what we believe about purpose, and it discolors passion.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Oh, I came back to finish my Bachelors and Masters degrees in Genetics, but the passion was gone. I had lost my Vision (although I didn’t know about Vision at the time). That life no longer fit my perception of myself, had I actually faced a perception of myself.

I found my way to a new passion, a purpose that continues to grow and develop even now.

How did I find my way?

I looked.

How I changed over the past forty-five years is still a mystery to me, a mystery I intend to pursue in the next year, but I know it all began with my searching for a purpose. I stopped and let the world race by me. I caught my breath and saw a glimmer of distant hope. Somebody loved me and believed in me. Answers came.

Have you stopped, I mean really stopped, to look at the tracks in your heart that show you who you are?

Happy Tracking!

Chains of Choice

“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” (George Bernard Shaw)

Because choices have consequences and we all know that—deep down where truth cannot be denied.

Note: This blog series investigates twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD (and other past stress) which has become part of our ethos or basic belief system. December investigates charity.

My life has been long, rich, rewarding, challenging, interesting, and punctuated by momentous choices from which, singly and in concert, has cascaded consequences for which I am responsible.

In 1963 I chose to participate in a six week Summer Science Training Program at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. That led to enrolling there, jobs, degrees, more jobs, more degrees, and a whole lot of experiences that contributed to who I am, today.

In 1964 I chose to ask a classmate to marry me. That led to marriage, children, and grandchildren.

In 1968 I chose to enlist in the Army and almost immediately give up my guaranteed enlistment as a Chemical Staff Specialist to become an Infantry Officer, a Green Beret, and a Vietnam Veteran.

In 1971 I chose to take an early out from the Army and return to UW.

In 1979 I chose to return to school to get certified to teach secondary science.

In 1980 I chose to take a job teaching in Beaver Dam, relocate, and remarry.

In 1988 I chose to go back to school, again, to learn how to be a better teacher.

In 2000 I chose to finish my high school teaching career and retire in 2001.

In 2001 I chose to finish my dissertation and earned my PhD in 2002.

In 2005 I chose to relocate in Yuma for winters to be nearer grandchildren in San Diego.

In 2008 I chose to build a house in Yuma and become an Arizona Resident.

In 2012 I chose to read the help wanted ads in The Yuma Sun, then apply for and accept a job at NAU-Yuma as an Assistant Clinical Professor.

Choices have consequences. Each choice we make opens some doors and closes others. I don’t know about you, but I have never been clever or wise enough to foresee those consequences with any clarity.

And for every choice I made in freedom, I bore the responsibility for the consequences.

Oh, sure, there are always limitations to liberty (Selective Service comes to mind) but I still had many personal liberties of choice within those constraints.

Our options of choice rise in crescendo and then begin to fade like the years of our lives slipping past. I can never be an airline pilot. That ship sailed forty-some years ago when I chose to not complete my application for flight school. But, who knows? That might have meant getting shot down and killed in Vietnam.

I can never be a police officer, a medical doctor, or President of the United States. I can only be the me that is the result of my choices. All I have to give to the world is the me I am becoming. That is charity.

I believe all these choices came from one very deep personal intention of my adolescence. To this day I do not know if I decided or simply admitted that what I wanted to do with my life was to understand the universe. I do know that the paths I have chosen have taught me more than that high school boy could have imagined.

This is why I write—to find out what I am thinking. This is why I teach, because nothing teaches me as much as trying to figure out what to teach others and to hear what others are thinking. This is why I feel blessed, because I have followed a passion of my youth, with a few missteps and dead ends, to a place of greater understanding, and that gives me liberty to share my experiences with others in ways which might help them choose in harmony with their passions.

Deep down inside you, what is a passion of your youth?

Happy Tracking!


A hundred fit young gladiators, baby-boomers all, gather in one arena on this day to compete for ribbons and glory. There will be twelve champions, tonight, one from each weight class, and one high school will go home with a trophy. But, before the final wrestling matches, competitors gather on the center mat—and sing.

Reminder: This blog series is dedicated to love, the various kinds of love beyond the romantic and erotic that support personal growth and healing, especially the healing of invisible wounds from Combat PTSD.

Wrestlers from eight competing teams sit on the mat after dinner and before the championship round. We wear colors of our teams—reds, greens, purple, blue, gold, maroon, black—with some of us in street clothes because we are out of the tournament.

We tell jokes. We get to know each other. And we sing.

My teammate brings forth his small four-string guitar and leads us in some old-timey folk songs—“Five Hundred Miles”, “Lemon Tree”, “Tom Dooley”, and we join in.

Music and humor become elixirs. We share more than competition. We get to know each other. We begin to laugh and like each other.

There is a bond among wrestlers on a team, a bond that lasts for years. But, there is also a bond among competitors, although I have not noticed bonds as tight as the ones we formed singing and joking on the mat. It was common to see wrestlers from one team cheering for wrestlers from another team—and coaching each other.

We grew to respect and to like each other. The world could use more of that.

The world could use more folk music sing-a-longs, informal gatherings of simple folks singing simple words and melodies that tell stories of people, passion, and poignancy.

Every now and then we could use a hootenanny.

It matters little how we categorize this kind of love, this respect and affection for competitors. It matters much that we recognize it, find it, and nurture it. After all, without our competitors, there is no competition. They are the reason we are having fun.

Perhaps it matters more to understand, a little, anyway, this other kind of love, the one that nurtures the competitors’ bond.

Maybe one kind of love feeds the other. Maybe the elixirs of our passions, our music, humor, art, or hobbies, help us to feel the love for one another.

Last week I confessed to loving dirt. Genetic or environment or Spirit, it doesn’t matter why. It matters that I do. Farmers and gardeners share a bond. Hunters and gatherers share a bond. Artists, including musicians, share a bond

Blessed are we who have a love, a passion, which we can share. I love dirt and I love learning.

My teammate, Rob, loved Biology and music, and I reckon he still does. I believe he recently retired from his Genetics Professor position, but he has not retired from music.

Care to listen? You can find him online at After Class playing some old-timey music with friends.

Come, join the hootenanny.