Passion: a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something. Mirram-Webster

I believe that passion is what separates living from existing. I reckon all of y'all know that I am passionate about birding. I came to this passion later in life. I was always into nature and I was an avid saltwater fisherman, but the birding bug did not bite me until early 2009 in Australia. The look on my face in this photo of me as I am told that it is time to leave the Western Treatment Plant captures the birth of a birder (and look at those bins! They are independent focus and weigh a ton. And how about that little point and shoot?).

I did not choose birding. Somehow it chose me. There was never a point when I thought, "I don't fish anymore and I'm tired of collecting ukuleles. I think I'll go to a waste treatment plant and look at birds." The best passions just happen naturally. I don't want to live a life where I do not have a reason to get up before dawn sometimes, or a reason to push myself (Colima Warbler, I am coming for you spring of 2017). I will never forget the afternoon in Deniliquin, NSW when Lynn and I lay down for naps after getting up at five that morning, knowing that we'd be out chasing the Plains Wanderer until after midnight, but still we were both too excited to sleep. That is passion and better yet, that is shared passion. It doesn't always happen, but it is magic when it does. I am grateful for that memory and look forward to making many more.

I am not here to judge others. Not everyone "gets" birding and there are those whose passions I have difficulty understanding, but I don't have to. In my opinion people choose their own paths and those paths, no matter how seemingly unappealing, serve them in some way.

Confusion between obsession and passion seems silly to me. People who don't get birding, sometimes call my dedication to it an obsession. Yes, I will stand for four hours staring into the same stretch of woods, in the rain, in hopes of glimpsing a Connecticut Warbler (and I did) and it was worth every second. That is passion. Obsession is trying to shoot a president to impress Jodie Foster. Here I am in the Florida heat walking to the far end of that shadeless track to look for a Purple Swamphen. Yes I saw it, and it was worth it. I am grateful.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.