Passion is not enough.

January is statistically the most documented month of my life.

Ask me what I did on January 3rd 2015, and I could give you a full account, down to the very things I ate.

Ask me what I did on June 3rd 2015, and I’m not even sure whether I was in this country.

I’ve kept a journal since I was eight, and each one takes turning and turning the pages to get past the dates marked 01/ (with scratches through a year that is always one number too low. Adjustment month. What can I say?)

You see, every December, I resolve to journal every day in the new year. My reasonings are always the same. I want to write. I want to grow. I want to remember.

And every year, I have no problem keeping this resolution… for a month. Sometimes two. But then life gets in the way. And soon each entry is in a  different color pen and starts with, “Wow! It’s been a while.”

You know what’s funny? I’m passionate about writing. Aside from being passionate about the love of Christ and about pub’s subs (Publix if you’re not familiar), it might be the greatest passion in my life.

But passion is not enough.

Passion is a spark. It may start a flame, but the fire burns out if you’re not willing to provide the lumber.

There’s this misconception that starting over is hard, that it’s hard to take a leap. It’s not. Because step one is only three feet off the ground. It’s easy to crumble pages torn from bindings and
start a new line.

(^see?)

It’s easy to do that first devotion, make that first compliment, that first 6 a.m. workout. Your will is never stronger than in the moment you make that initial change.

What’s difficult is perseverance.

Habits are not built on promises. Habits are built on practices. Let’s take, for example, a professional athlete. If I were to ask Michael Phelps how he made it to the Olympics, would he say, “Well, I woke up one day and decided, ‘Hey, swimming is fun. I’m gonna swim in the Olympics.’”

Maybe. But that wouldn’t be the end of the response. He worked. Even when he hated it. Even when he wanted to quit.

Our dreams take work. They take skipping out on things that look awesome in the moment. They take having the courage to leave something behind. They take picking up a second job. They take hearing ‘no’ and having the heart not to believe it.

Because when you’re in the library at 2 a.m. with your neck craned over a fine-print book, your head will start to get foggy. And you won’t see a passion. You won’t remember what sent you there. But that doesn’t mean you should close the book and go home.

ExPeRiMeNt TiMe WaHoOoOo!!!!

  1. Close your eyes. (lol jk you can’t read with your eyes closed, silly!!)
  2. Imagine a calendar. Imagine having the knowledge to circle a day, perhaps years down the line, as the day you reach your goal or achieve your dream. Now flip back to today.
  3. Consider all the days that fall between. Don’t think about breaking the ribbon and pumping your fists in the air. Think about every moment between now and your smiling moment that will make your frown. Think about work, about sleeplessness, about being on the verge of giving up. Wonder why you shouldn’t.
  4. Now go back. Erase those all from your calendar. Add in the trivial things, the extra movie nights you now have room for. The extra vacation days. The extra hours of sleep. Pencil them into your mental calendar, and then add them up. One by one.What do they amount to? Anything? Does it leave the world any better off, another well-rested, well-vacationed moviegoer? Does it leave you any better off?

You are a fireplace. Passion may be the spark that lights the fire in your belly, but you have to work to keep the flame burning. You have to cut trees and lug lumber. And you can put the fire out. You can smother it with calendar dates that all add up to nothing. And you can let yourself grow cold. Hollow.

Or you can use the calendar pages as kindling. You can let the fire burn. You can light up the world, sending a trail of smoke into the sky.

So take a leap! Take a step! But follow it with more. Let it add up, multiply, climb to terrifying and liberating heights. And remember that it won’t be easy.

When you say ‘this is challenging’ is exactly when you know your fire is growing.

(And here’s to hoping that this time next year, I know exactly what was on my mind on June 3rd 2016.)

lifestyleEmma Murphy