Passion: What You Do Even if No One Notices

Catherine Lanser
2 min readSep 13, 2021

I can hold my dad’s professional and passionate pursuits in my hand. They are an assortment of medals with pens with strong insignia. Red and gold Maltese crosses, bugles, and axes show the authority of a man given the responsibility and honor to protect and serve.

He was a first responder before that phrase was coined. Both the Ambulance Chief and 1st Assistant Fire Chief in my home town.

I found the medals still pinned to his shirts where they had been hanging in the back of my mom’s closet since they’d last been worn 31 years ago. As I come through the old newspaper clippings I learn more about the local politics of such a post. A fight for a new ambulance. Posed photos, coloring contests, money raised, elections.

These are mixed with my own memories of my dad putting on his good clothes and attending nighttime committee meetings after his day job at the post office. When he returns home my parents discuss people at the meeting the way my husband and I talk about our coworkers now who don’t see things our way.

An article mentions a large house fire where departments from across the county were called in to help fight the blaze. My dad is mentioned as one of the firefighters who received minor injuries. I remember the weeks he sits in his recliner with a cast on his leg after falling through the floor in the house.

It all culminates with a photo of my dad receiving a plaque and a key to the city. It doubles as a bottle opener.

My Own Pursuits

My own passions and pursuits are less physical. Words don’t require muscle. I write and write and write with the dream that someday they’ll become something bigger. Like my dad, I try to monetize them by turning them into a part-time job after my full-time gig. I make my interest bureaucratic and volunteer for my state writing association.

Writers talk about making a difference all the time, but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of a book saving someone from a burning building. So why bother?

My dad may have joined our community’s police and fire department as a way to earn extra money for his large family of nine kids, but that wasn’t all. I believe it was his passion. Otherwise, he would have found something easier to do.

Passion is what you do even if no one notices. If you end up with some medals. Even better.

Originally published at on September 13, 2021.



Catherine Lanser

Narrative nonfiction and memoir. Querying my memoir about my family, told through the lens of brain tumor.