According to Dr. Andrew Baker, associate professor of Bible, when Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor attends an event at which she is placed at a table with strangers she asks everyone, “What do you love?” It is a simple question but, when answered, it gives a look into what someone really enjoys or admires. It is a conversation starter and community builder — suddenly connection points are made among those who previously did not know each other’s names. Baker posed this same question to my class three weeks ago.
One by one, the class went through and explained what we loved — pugs, trains, photography, music, family — the list went on. Unintentionally, I spoke last and was completely moved by this exercise. My classmates, most of whom I knew by name from my department or as acquaintances, created an environment of vulnerability in 50 minutes by simply explaining what they loved. The conversation shifted after that. Were we talking about love or passion? That’s where this gets tricky.
The next class was about defining love and passion. We talked amongst ourselves and then shared our findings. There were answers about where love comes from and why we love what we love. Then someone said we can only have passion if we have love. However, that’s not true.
Passion comes from all emotions and reactions to events. An act of passion comes from many places of hurt or often pain. Some organizations would not exist without a tragedy. There are all different kinds of love and passion — the beauty of both is that their existence does not rely on the other.
Baseball began as a love for me. My grandmother purchased season tickets for many years. She was a huge influence on me, and what she adored, I adored. After she died, I remained in love with the sport and would have never considered a career in the field if not for her. This love grew into a passion for the sport and its organizations when I realized there were many career opportunities for me in baseball. My passion grew in remembrance of her and the love she shared with me.
You can have passion with and without love. You can ask others what they love and think of your passions. Though they seem interrelated, many times passion and love are mutually exclusive. Regardless, it is interesting to reflect on where your true passions lie and what causes them. It’s even more incredible to ask others what their passions are and why those passions are so important to them.
With all this being said, the question “What do you love?” is excellent. However, I challenge you to take it a step further with, “What are you passionate about, and why?”