On Passion and Poppies

Posted by Sooz on Monday, December 5, 2011 | No Comments

What are you passionate about?  What stirs your heart, wakes you up inside, makes you feel alive?  Have you ever even considered it?  Passion is defined as a powerful or compelling feeling or emotion.  Does that ring a bell?  It seems that passion is often viewed as a luxury in today’s society.  Most of us trudge through life with the sense that mere survival is our main objective.  “I just want to make it through the day,” is the prevailing attitude of many.  We are overwhelmed with our lives and find it difficult to make room to even ponder deeper things like living with passion.  My concern is that we feel listless and lost because we are not living a passionate life.  Somehow we have bought into the idea that a passionate life is the exception – saved for the winsome artist and the troubled poet – while the rest of us are relegated to lives of meager existence.

What does a passionate life look like?  My experience is that the “passion infected” person seems to overflow with enthusiasm. They love what they are doing and the doing of it produces excitement, energy, joy, and optimism. They know what matters to their hearts, what stirs their souls, and they are going about doing things that honor that inner call. The by-product of this life is the most compelling part.   These people seem to be more joyful, focused, satisfied and successful.  They say things like, “it doesn’t feel like work because I enjoy it so much!”

This is the life I want to lead, but, like most, I am ill prepared.  So who can we study, who can we listen to and observe to teach us the way of the passionate life?  I encourage you to make a list of people that inspire you with their passion and begin to look more closely at their lives.  Today, I want to introduce you to someone whose passion made her an artist, and her paint was wildflowers.

When I was a girl I can remember riding in the backseat of our blue Buick down the open highway and hitting a patch of beautiful poppies bursting forth in crimson glory, in, of all places, the highway median! I remember commenting on the unexpected beauty.  It seemed that someone had forgotten that this was just a boring old road covered with mindless travelers droning their way along the endless ribbon of pavement. Some crazy soul had pitched out their seeds in bucket-fulls as their car sped down the highway!  It was astonishing to me.  “Why in the world would they do that?” I thought.  That was the first time I remember hearing her unforgettable name, “Lady Bird Johnson did that,” someone said.  “Who the heck is Lady Bird and why would she waste her beautiful seeds on the highway median? I wondered.

Lady Bird Johnson was the wife of Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the United States.  As First Lady, she immediately had the difficult job of helping Jackie and the nation heal after the loss of President John F. Kennedy.  It was said that her gracious personality and Texas hospitality went a long way during those dark days.  Mrs. Johnson was also a successful entrepreneur and business woman.  She did much to help her husband in the office of president, but it was her passion for wildflowers that lives on today.

Listen to her moving words…

“My heart found its home long ago in the beauty, mystery, order and disorder of the flowering earth.”

“My special cause, the one that alerts my interest and quickens the pace of my life, is to preserve the wildflowers and native plants that define the regions of our land-to encourage and promote their use in appropriate areas and thus help pass on to generations in waiting the quiet joys and satisfactions I have known since my childhood “

“Some may wonder why I chose wildflowers when there are hunger and unemployment and the big bomb in the world.  Well, I, for one, think we will survive, and I hope that along the way we can keep alive our experience with the flowering earth.  For the bounty of nature is also one of the deep needs of man.”

“Though the word beautification makes the concept sound merely cosmetic, it involves much more: clean water, clean air, clean roadsides, safe waste disposal and preservation of valued old landmarks as well as great parks and wilderness areas. 


To me…beautification means our total concern for the physical and human quality we pass on to our children and the future.

“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.  It is not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focusing lens on what we can become.

“As I look back across a span of more than seven decades, I’m grateful for the joy that nature has given me and for the lifetime of experiences that led me to believe that I might repay a part of the debt I’ve incurred for beauty enjoyed.”

These are the words of a woman who knows her own heart. She knows how she feels and what matters to her.  Because of this passion, she established what is now known as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.  Her work also provided that the interstates and highways of American might be decorated with wildflowers.  She can be credited with preserving many species of flowers that might have become extinct, as so many species have been lost forever with the advance of civilization into wilderness areas. These are only a few of the things she accomplished as a result of her passion for beauty and respect for indigenous plants.

There is much to appreciate about Lady Bird Johnson, but all that she accomplished was done so because she knew what she loved and what she was passionate about.  Out of this passion so much Goodness flowed.  Isn’t it worth taking a little time to consider what it is that makes you come alive?  Don’t you think you deserve a chance at a life lived with passion?  It matters nothing at all how old you are or how long you have been in your career.  If you desire to change and if you are brave enough to begin to move toward that goal – you have a chance at really living!

“Goodness flows from a heart of

A “Good” Idea:

Give yourself a chance at real living.  Consider what you really love and study up on people
who you believe are living the passionate life.  Take a step toward life!


Leave a Reply