Parasailing, pottery, dancing… passions are not merely activities we love to do, they are doorways back to our true selves, to freedom. While the activities we identify as our passions may change over time, these portals to Self always exist; we recognize them in experiences in which we “feel alive.” That “alive” feeling of flow and vitality when we’re doing something we love feels terrific, and understandably, we often attempt to replicate the activity to continue to access that experience. But that’s where we’re getting it backwards.

The feeling of “aliveness” doesn’t originate with the activity itself, though it may initially appear that way. The activity simply shifts our attention to the aliveness that is already there. Passions bring our attention back to who we really are. The ecstasy we feel when we are in the flow, thoroughly engaged in an activity we love—this is the essence of our true selves. The activity is only a passageway.

Passions are portals that jettison us into awareness of the joy of Being. It’s from that space that we bring into existence the excellence of drafting a short story, leading an inspired meeting, or creating a delicious entrée. It’s actually the Being (our awareness of the energized feeling of flow), not the doing of the activity that we enjoy so much. In a seamless cycle of love, however, doing also becomes a portal for the awareness of Being. The doing not only supports access to the Being, but simultaneously becomes its expression as well. This, in my opinion, is why we are here: to express the love that is Being through doing.

The problem? We tend to identify with our portals–our passions–becoming attached to them. We’ve got the cart before the horse when we think what we’re passionate about makes us who we are. “Who AM I if I’m not a surfer?” This common ego identity crisis results from identification with the doing, with the action, which is an extremely dangerous way to live. Eventually, whether through physical limitation, financial circumstances or other roadblock, the doing may not be possible anymore. Then our perception is often that we’re left empty handed, deprived of what we defined as our life’s purpose. Sadly, some people end their lives due to this misunderstanding. In reality, the surfing does not define me. Surfing, like any other activity through which I channel love, is merely a modality for expressing the energy of Being that is inherently who I am.

A critical key to living an authentic, free and passionate life lies in untangling our understanding of ourselves from our psychological dependence on doing and having. Realizing that our aliveness is what drives our passions (and not the other way around) frees us to express the joy of Being in every moment. Liberated from the prison of believing we need anything at all to effortlessly experience our aliveness, then we can truly play with form without attachment. We can ice skate, mountain climb or crochet to our little heart’s content: it’s all in who we’re Being while we’re doing.

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