Passion is Life – Cheers, Dani Rojas

Dani Rojas, a soccer-playing character on the TV show Ted Lasso, is known for his motto, “Football is life!” Dani is a Mexican national playing in England, hence the word “football” rather than soccer. He’s the team optimist, the good guy, the one who reminds everyone else to bring their love of the sport to every game. His passion is infectious. One can imagine Dani playing football from the time he was a small child, maybe carrying his ball with him everywhere he went.

I asked myself the other day what equals life for me. The answer will not surprise frequent readers of this blog. I played soccer as a kid, but I was never good at it. And I didn’t really enjoy it all that much. Something else filled me up as a child – art! In all it’s forms. Whether it was a performance by the local children’s theater or an impromptu puppet show in my living room; a finger-painting class at the art museum or a post-class “don’t touch” tour of the exhibits; singing in a youth choir or going to hear the “big acts” at the state fair; story hour at the library or writing and illustrating my own stories, I loved it all.

How many times has a piece of art moved me to tears, caused me to laugh until I couldn’t breathe, made me angry or sad for days, filled me with awe? If those emotions and reactions aren’t the definition of “to live,” I’m not sure what is.

Though writing was, and still is, the form of personal artistic expression I most gravitated toward, I was never 100% sure as a child that I wanted to be a writer. I’ve always wondered why. Now, I think maybe it’s because I was afraid if I devoted myself entirely to only one art form, I’d have to give up the others. I think my child’s mind wondered why I couldn’t be a singer, an artist, an actress, and a writer all at once.

When it came time to commit to writing as my profession, I gave a large part of my heart to that art form. I worked very hard to learn how to write, to find my voice, to complete my books, etc. But I never gave my whole heart away. I left room to plan karaoke parties for my birthday, develop and perform a one-woman show based on my book Dancing in Combat Boots, and become part-owner of an art gallery. I’ve championed local artists, donated to arts foundations, created community projects to support reading and the arts, and am getting ready to launch a major new collaborative effort to bring local artists together.

Dani is lucky. He found one thing to fuel him, soccer. His entire focus is on that sport and his teammates. And I am lucky because as an arts enthusiast, I can find joy not just in my own artistic expression, but in the efforts of every artist – professional or hobbyist – who crosses my path every single day. My perfect day is more scattered than Dani’s. In it, I might write a blog post in the morning, check out a new art exhibit in the afternoon, and go listen to live music in the evening, but I’m no less devoted to my passion than Dani is, and no less enthusiastic.

But Dani also understands life never stays the same and it’s never all sunshine and roses. In one episode, he explains, “Even though football is life, football is also death. And football is football, too. But mostly, football is life!” When his playing days are over, Dani will continue to experience his one true love as a coach, or a commentator, or a die-hard fan. His passion will continue.

It’s not difficult to summon enthusiasm for something you love, even when it’s challenging, even when you lose, even when you’re not as good as you wish you were. If you’re not feeling that passion anymore in some part of your life, maybe it’s time for a change. Loving life should not be so hard.

For me, art is life!  What is it for you?

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