Living with Passion

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | May 22, 2010

"If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you, BECAUSE of you."
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Writers always enjoy when readers reflect on something they have written. Even if the comments are negative, the writer receives the message that someone has paid attention to his labor. But when a reader says something positive about what she has written, the writer's joy knows no bounds. 

Over the years many strangers have become new friends because they have connected with me after reading one of my "Think About It" columns. Sometimes we meet on the streets of Phoenixville or at a concert here on campus or I get a note in the mail. The "power of the pen" never ceases to amaze me. 

Jane Palicia was one of those strangers. A few weeks ago I wrote an essay on "The Value of Play" and in it I referenced two of her books: Flexible Flyer and Other Great Sleds and Great Sleds & Wagons. She lives in Wayne, NJ and a friend from the state of Washington had emailed her my column which included a reference which piqued her curiosity to connect with me. 

Since she included her phone number in her email communiqu%E9, I decided to call her. Sometimes the phone is a much better communication medium than the computer. What followed was an absolutely fascinating conversation. 

After we briefly discussed her question, I had to ask her how she got interested in sleds. What an amazing story unfolded. She told me that she always loved sleds but she was especially drawn to the Flexible Flyer. Even though she became a nurse and had a diverse medical career, she never lost her interest in sleds. After she got married and her children went off to college one thing led to another and she just got started doing research on sleds. 

She took 25 years researching her first book and the second one which was published in 2009 took her 10 years. Jane has become a recognized authority on sleds and has been featured in articles, on the radio and national television to talk about her own sled collection which she has displayed everywhere from The Boston Museum of Science to Longwood Gardens here in Pennsylvania. 

After our conversation I knew I had to read her books so I ordered both of them. I actually have them right here by my side as I am writing this article and I must say they are amazing. In one book alone are over 150 pictures of these treasured toys. As I read about them and looked at the photos I realized that I also had this very sled, the Flexible Flyer, when I was a child. Now my own memory bank was reopened. 

But more than being an expert on sleds, I learned something else about Jane Palicia during our phone conversation. "Even though I am 70 years old, I still love sledding."Her voice sparkled with excitement as she described the joy she receives by going outside on a snowy day and to go sailing one more time down a hill on one of her sleds. Laughingly she described neighbors who see her and probably think, "She's at it again." 

I love people who have passion. And as I listened to Jane speak of childhood memories of games like "king of the hill" and the flickering gas lights and the hot chocolate and being home by 8:00, I realized that life can indeed be lived at many levels. 

For some, they skim over the surface literally like a sled going down a hill on a cold, snowy day. Others, like Jane, get on that sled and pour their life into the ride savoring every moment living and reliving the thrill of the ride. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
Responses can be mailed to