Sometimes I hear people say, “Find your passion! Live in your passion!” It amuses me that one might live an entire life and have just-one-passion.
As the mother of 5 children and the GMAH of 14, boxer Mike Tyson would agree that me having one passion is “ludicrous.” That’s not how the Creator worked in my life.
I was born with a passion for helping others that manifested as a self-effacing tendency, to play the supportive role, rather than seek the limelight. Some may remember the 1950’s television western, The Lone Ranger, a dramatization of a Zane Grey novel about life in the American west. The Texas Ranger hero, anonymously fought villains aided by a loyal Native American sidekick, Tonto.
Tonto was often the difference between the Lone Ranger, living or dying in an episode. And in hindsight, I appreciated the depiction of a Native American man as smart, strong and wise. People of color are not always portrayed that way, but I digress.
While society places great value on leadership, being in front of the camera, or having my name on the masthead of the project, was never important to me. My real passion is in supporting and helping others. I’m good at that and knew it at an early age.
Whether it was pulling my younger brother out of scrapes that he managed to get himself into, or championing the ‘underdog,’ I always felt I was smart and strong enough to be a fixer.
That passion led me to spend eleven years in Liberia, West Africa. Ten of those years I worked with the Africa’s first national Red Cross Society. The years 1979-1990, resonate with me as the most significant period in my life. Along with my parent’s teachings, my experiences in Liberia form the undergirding of my entire spiritual life. I worked and raised my children; immersed in a culture that since 1989 has fallen under the weight of decades of Civil War, massive societal breakdown, and crippling poverty and most recently the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, which to date has claimed the lives of nearly 700 people. What’s clear to me is that my time in Liberia was obviously not about changing Liberia, it was about unleashing my passion for service and shaping my own soul. Things seldom are what they appear to be.
But there was a parallel purpose growing quietly within. Poking itself into my thoughts and peppering my dreams while providing me a continuous stream of inner nourishment. I was a writer, always have been and always will be.
I began writing when I was seven or eight years old and throughout my life have written poetry about freedom and love, crafted essays, children’s books, short stories, plays, written inspirational literature, and even greeting cards! Writing is my refuge. I can lose myself in the creative process and in so doing find peace. I had often attempted to publish my works and except for an essay published in Essence Magazine in the 70’s and inspirational literature published by my church’s writer’s guild I had been unsuccessful. My deepest passion remained unexcavated.
One of my favorite singers, Diane Reeves says in Testify, “Sometimes you just won’t understand why life is the way it is. Things don’t always go the way you planned them, but I believe that God and time are synonymous and in time God reveals all things. Be still, stand in love and pay attention.”
I didn’t know that my experiences in Liberia, were forming the platform from which I would eventually launch and unleash my lifelong passion for writing.
In 2007, I pulled my thoughts and reflections of Liberia together into a memoir, Sweet Liberia, Lessons from the Coal Pot, which was published in 2010, “… and in time God reveals all things.” My passion for writing has been given time to grow and finally has space in my life to manifest. This is the appointed time.
What I have come to understand is that passion is not a straight line, it’s a circle and a curlicue and it’s messy and it’s mine.
– Susan Peters
Susan Peters, aka, Ahnydah (pronounced ah-NIE-dah) Rahm, brings a treasure trove of experience gained as an expatriate living in West Africa, to her memoir, Sweet Liberia, Lessons from the Coal Pot. A native of Chicago’s south side, she has worked in women’s development, communication, sales, marketing, event management, fundraising and currently manages community relations at a prestigious academic medical center. A lifelong author of poetry, essays, short stories, and plays, Susan is poised for a May 2014 release of, Broken Dolls, a work of contemporary fiction and mystery.