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It’s 6:23 a.m. Truth is, I’ve been awake since 1:47 a.m. This is weird. Normally, I’m a 9:30-6:30 sleeper. Out like a light, sleep like a rock, wake up at 6:30 on the dot without an alarm. Last night was completely out of the ordinary.
I awoke wide-eyed in the wee hours of the morning. Went to the bathroom. Drank a glass of water. Went back to bed. Sleep just wouldn’t come. Go to sleep, I commanded. You’re going to be exhausted tomorrow if you don’t. Come on. Just close your eyes and don’t open them up. That’ll do it. It didn’t work. As I watched the beady red eyes of my clock morph from 1:55 to 2:08 to 2:46 to 3:10, I only grew more restless. My mind would not shut off. All I could think about was food…
What would sweet potatoes taste like drizzled with chile oil? Would bell peppers be better stuffed with wild rice or brown rice? What about quinoa? How did I make those muffins again yesterday? Shoot…I knew I should have written that recipe down. Think pears are coming into season yet? Nah, give ‘em another few weeks. They’ll probably have apples at the farmer’s market on Saturday. I should get some. (Pause and doze, then wake up. More thoughts follow.) Is my cooking even any good? What if people are just telling me my food is good and it’s not? Am I tough enough critic? People say you are your worst critic. Am I? That soup I made the other night was pretty good, but was it great? Could it have been better?
I drove myself half-crazy (okay, maybe completely crazy) thinking about food last night. So many things I want to try, so many food combinations I’ve yet to taste. I have a plastic sleeve tucked in a binder on my bookshelf that’s stuffed with dozens of “this looks good” recipes I’ve clipped over the past few months. They are all waiting for me, calling my name softly every time I walk by. And those are just the ones on paper. There is also a whole separate cluster of ideas jammed inside my head just waiting to break out. I sometimes think I can feel them pressing on the walls of my skull in their efforts to leap into the kitchen and turn into some delicious meal.
They torture me, all those ideas. And yet, I love them for it.
Last night, as I stared at the vent in the ceiling above me and wished desperately to–at any moment–slip into sleep, I realized something. Before my sleepless night, I’d always thought that passion was defined as something you absolutely love doing and are extremely good at doing. When you’re fulfilling your passion, life is sweet. Perfect, even. But I was wrong.
Passion was redefined for me last night sometime around 4:00 a.m. (I guess that would mean it was morning) I learned this: passion pulls you in two directions at once. On one hand, you’re in love with it and wish you could just disappear deep into its many layers and folds. But on the other, because it is always there–stalking you like a shadow–you want space. Breathing room. Strangely, though, if you stay away from that passion too long, somehow it pulls you back into its realm and infuses life into you again. You cannot escape it.
The answer is no. A life spent pursuing passion is not a perfect one. It has its ups and downs, highs and lows, and a good handful of sleepless nights. A passionate life will not be easy. But it will be rich. It will be full. And in the end, what truly matters most?