My son loves wrestling. He can rattle off the signature move of nearly every D1 collegiate wrestler, his record, and what happened when he went head-to-head against each opponent. Ever. I’m not kidding; you name it, and that fact lives somewhere in my son’s magic brain. Some years ago we sat next to a man and his college-aged son at the Big Ten Wrestling Championship hosted by the University of Iowa. By the end of the day, our seatmates were asking my then-high school junior son for background information on nearly every match. This proud mom sat beside him beaming.

The 2022 tournament took place over this past weekend, so my son and I text-chatted about it this morning. With each new message, I could practically feel his brain come alive. Synapses fired quickly as he laid thoughtful analysis on me. If I had been able to see his face, I know his eyes would have been shining and his posture taut with excitement. As a mom, that’s a pretty cool thing to witness.

The conversation then evolved into activities he might undertake to stay connected to the sport beyond just following along. Inwardly, I cheered. Yes! I thought. Yes, you should!

We spend so much of our lives chasing things we don’t love. Many of us have jobs that leave us burnt out and exhausted. Our eyes dull and our posture slackens as we lose sight of the thing that really gets us going.

But why? How much more would we enjoy our lives if every day we jumped smack into the middle of that thing? We might not make as much money or maybe we’d make more, but we’d be happy. Isn’t that the goal?

Life is shorter than we think. A former colleague who was five years younger than me succumbed to cancer last week. Five years younger. As I reflect on this wake-up call, I keep landing on one thought: I hope he was happy.

Are you? Am I? We should be.

Do what you love. Feed your passion. Go after the thing that makes your eyes shine and your brain come alive. If you can’t find a way to make a living at it, pursue it in your off hours. In the end, anything else isn’t worth it.

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