What my father’s death taught me about passion

by Elliot Lyons

I’ll never forget my dad telling me to “skate hard and have fun” before patting me on the helmet and sending me out onto the ice before hockey games when I was young. 

His point was passion, and before reflecting on his death, I never thought it was something that could be taught, but he taught me what passion felt like by giving it a different name: “fun.”

My dad died while I was home for my best friend’s wedding in April.

He was 77.

We drove the two hours down to see him; I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years. He was in a rehabilitation home from a fall: he was pinned between his bed and the wall for over three days until one of his friends came through and found him.

This is the first thing I’ve written about him.

Mourning my father’s death has seemed more like an interlude in life than a constant process because I’ve been so busy working, finishing moving into an apartment with my girlfriend, and seeing I survive in a country that I wasn’t born in, where I have no family.

“Are you having fun?” his voice echoes in my mind.

“I don’t know,” I’ll respond, because the passion isn’t there like it was before.

Where it used to be a way to maintain life, a way to access the life force that keeps us all going, now it’s a way to change it. When I was younger, out there skating around on the ice, fun and the passion contained in it were what I looked forward to. Now, as an adult, I’m facing the death of the person who taught me what passion was, and the re-evaluation of my own life brought on by his death.

What will my life become? Am I where I need to be?

He also taught me to ask questions. Part of passion isn’t only about enjoying life, it’s about looking at it honestly, asking the hard, necessary questions. Now, these questions have a sense of urgency they didn’t have before.  It’s why my dad always asked if I was completely into whatever I was doing: to make sure I was going in the right direction, and if I weren’t, it was supposed to be a beacon for change.

And we can’t live great, fun lives if we’re allergic to change.

Want to know more about change and how it works? Check out this video

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