Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What passion, if any, will call you?

As a young woman in college at Penn, majoring in history, Julie Jaffe wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life.
“It was a world where women did what their mothers said,” Julie explained recently.. “My mother said, ‘Be a teacher!’ and I did.”
Later, she rebelled and went to law school – one of 15 women in her class at Temple, of whom only 8, including Julie, survived the year, she says.
“But I found I liked the teaching, and went back to it. ‘If you save one soul, you save the world,’ the Talmud explains,” Julie says.
 She also liked being a ‘showman” and a “story teller,” and so taught children’s literacy in Philadelphia’s public schools for about 40 years.
But having left full time work, Julie has decided that she doesn’t need a passionate, later-in-life mission, unlike some of those people who show up on Oprah.
“It’s ok not to have a passion. I don’t feel I have to have a successful-something at this time of life. I want to enjoy my family and friends and have time to follow a variety of pursuits."
 At first, Julie says, “I became, much to my distress, an organization lady,” serving on various boards. “My mother was an organization person and I swore I’d never do that,” Julie explained.
(How is it that we are always trying to escape being like our mothers?…. )
“I took a course on Ulysses at the Rosenbach, that was fabulous. And I make chocolate-covered pretzels and sell them.  People say, 'Do this as a business,' but I don’t want to.”
She’s helping a friend with cancer, practices yoga, studies meditation, is interested in bringing art into classrooms, and travels with her husband to places like Bhutan and Russia. And she’s found meaning serving on the board of  the Children’s Literacy Initiative.

“I am passionate about accepting my comfort and having time to do what I choose,” she says.
She would have liked to go on Oprah and say, “What about us? … What about the women who are competent, who are clever, who are full of vigor and energy who don’t have the specific passion or specific vision? Where do we go? Where do we fit into this retirement community or this after-work community?"

What are your thoughts on this dilemma? Is it enough to do a lot of things you love or do you need to have a passion or ignite some new spark in yourself? 

1 comment:

judith elson said...

this interview really spoke to me. My mother said I shouldn't be an Archeologist, I needed to be home at 3 o'clock with my children rather than working for a MAN and I became a speech pathologist and later a psychotherapist...both of which I enjoyed...still...I was always defending my decision and felt it wasn't I am volunteering for Women's International League for Peace and Freedom...but I like the idea of "making pretzels", gardening, I have permission?