Key Teachings

  • A passion for the possible is an invitation to consider what you are willing to endure for possibilities you may never see come to fruition.
  • When passion and purpose align we experience deeper meaning in life because we are fully present to every moment and working towards that which is good.
  • A passion for the possible does not require lofty ideals but humble action in your daily life. Wherever you are, start there. 

While I was growing up, my mom had a job that provided her with extraordinary benefits to support her children’s education. As the beneficiary of those job perks, I could not be more grateful for something I received but did little to earn other than be studious. 

Providing a college education for her children was my mom’s dream, which my kid sister and I heard about around the kitchen table every evening when we sat down to do our homework. My mom had started college part-time herself, but discontinued after becoming pregnant with me, while my dad went to night school when my sister and I were toddlers. My folks were determined for their children to have a better future with less hardships than they had. Naturally, this came at a cost.

For my mom, she found herself in a work environment that a Human Resources Department today would likely label as toxic and abusive. I saw then, and I see now, the toll those conditions took on her, but she would tell you she would not change a thing because she had a laser focus on her kids — she had passion for the possible. 

When I first read Søren Kierkegaard’s quote that hope “is passion for the possible,” I thought he meant conviction, zest, or that heart-racing passion which fills the pages of romance novels. But a passion for what is possible goes far beyond zeal.

A passion for the possible asks you to consider this: what are you willing to endure for a better tomorrow?

Passion comes from the Latin word pati which means to “suffer or endure.” A passion for the possible asks you to consider this: what are you willing to endure for a better tomorrow? The answer to this question is not on the other side of a problem or somewhere else. It is not a question that can be concluded with once I overcome this adversity, I’ll know what to do. Instead, the answer is found in the life you are living — it is found in your hopes for your children and other people’s children, what you observe and give witness to in your life, in your adversities and triumphs, and in your core values. 

When you attune to your specific place and time, cherished relationships, and your life through a practice of grateful living, you discover your passionate purpose. Purpose, as Br. David Steindl-Rast defines it, is the work you are called to do right now. This work is not your work to do forever and it will change alongside your life. Discovering purpose gives life meaning, and it can be found in community, family, relationship, and even a meaningful job. There are as many roads to purpose as there are days in your life. 

Purpose is an interesting aspect of life, though. It can be elusive if you search for it in meaningless work or with a greedy heart, but it can be abundant when you proceed with intention — when you are grounded in the good thing you are working towards. This is where you recognize that every step is a step in the direction of possibility. This is what my folks understood in their laser focus for their children. Their passion was to put their kids on a path where possibility was met by more possibilities. 

While our passion for the possible can be lofty in principle, it can also be humble in action. We can, as Dr. Simran Jeet Singh reminds us, know that “our individual liberation is bound up with one another’s; [and when] we seek our own freedom we seek freedom for all.” In other words, it is good and right to do the work that is ours to do because it is in service to our own lives and to each other. Our life’s invitation is to tune in, discover the work that is ours to do right now, and proceed with a passion for the possible. 

Reflection Questions

  • What is your life inviting you to endure for future possibilities?
  • What have you been enduring that can now be let go?

Photo by Daniel Thiele

Joe Primo, Grateful Living

Joe Primo, Grateful Living

About the author

Joe Primo is the Chief Executive Officer of Grateful Living. He is a passionate trainer, community-builder, and program developer whose accomplishments in the field of grief made him a leading voice on resilience and adversity. Grateful living became a pillar to his work since his first introduction to Br. David Steindl-Rast in 2005. An entrepreneurial leader, Primo designed, built, expanded, and led Good Grief, Inc., the largest children and family bereavement organization in the Northeast, from 2007-2022. His TED talk, “Grief is Good,” reframed the grief paradigm as a responsive resource. He is the author of “What Do We Tell the Children? Talking to Kids About Death and Dying” and numerous articles.