Saturday, April 25, 2009

If nothing else passion for what we do

Recently I felt compelled to recount a story to students. If I could give it a name, it would be called "the passion of what we do".

Passion; the kind you see on the football pitch particularly from an Milan player scoring a goal, or a six year old running their first competitive race at a school event, or that climber seeking to scale a mountain, walk large distances, with that burning desire to succeed.

Emerging from the subway, I witnessed an argument between a road sweeper and what appeared to be a bystander.

I'm not the type to stick my nose where it's not needed, but I'm equally not at home walking away from something when you think there's something you could have done, or should have done.

I can recount times when I'm halfway down the street, only to double back to the amusement of a companion because a broken glass lay precariously in the street waiting to injure someone and which I ignored first time around.

The argument
So after a few minutes of gesticulating, the bystander left the road sweeper prompted by the command: "get away, you don't know what you're talking about".

I enquired. The road sweeper who's name it turned out to be kojo said he was accused of being lazy. The man standing next to him was also a sweeper and was chiding him for his sloppiness, that he had to do kojo's clearing up when he took over kojo's shift the following day.

Kojo explained: "This can't be. I cannot be sloppy. I know this and my bosses know this. And if I had been sloppy, why would I have won Street sweeper of the year last year".

More was said afterwards, and as I left I spoke in Ashanti/Twi a language I rarely uses but am well versed in from Ghana. I said to him "well done".

Kojo I could see took great pride in his work, and after 9 years at it had clearly not lost any passion, so the accusation must have hurt.

Passion. It is that which drives us and that which makes us seek out that we do not know, yet seek to understand.

A school I went to in Ghana burrowed that them and the word "faith" into its charges.

You can be anyone its lecturers would often say, with passion and faith.

A sermon delivered one Sunday has always stuck with me. To a sea of white shirted and shorted youngsters, the evangelist spoke about faith.

We all have it he said, because if you didn't you would not attempt to sit in this chair, you would not get onto that bus, you would not drink that water.

For every time you carry out such an action you depend on the notion of faith that what you're expecting will come to pass. The chair will not collapse, the bus will move, and the water from the tap will quench your thirst.

The passion of film making
Film making and communications, our work we do employs faith and passion.

For even though we require a skillset, a knowledge of how to, guidance of where to go and what to do, our passion is a redeeming quality that others feed on and off to make things happen.

If you are passionate about your work, others will step forward to aid you in times of need. If you are sloven, then it should not come as a surprise that people aren't rushing to support you.

With passion and faith, the " I want to know" drive, the rewards often materialise.

End note: I got into thinking about this after constructing the Obama video, then Shirley Thompson, the composer rang. I have just come of the phone after 40 mins.

The making of the Obama score follows its own drama, one which she now has a documentary maker shooting.

It involves scripts going lost in the post of rehearsals on the eve of the event, of key members attending to family matters, of the BBC Orchestra commenting on the score. Passion and Faith, Shirley Thompson has that in abundance.