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When asked why we do what we do, each of us at Creative Leaps would likely give a different answer. Mine is a single word: passion.

In preparing my solo performance pieces for ARCS of Imagination, I was working to find more humor and levity. I’d been told that the participants were “burnt out” from their work and needed a good laugh. Burnt out. My mind latched onto this phrase. I could just see them: dark circles under their eyes, clutching desperately at coffee cups, praying not to have to go back to work on Monday.

Suffice it to say I was shown a thing or two. I had to work to keep up with them. They spoke when I expected silence, they laughed when I expected them to cry. I looked into their eyes and saw them saying: That all you got, kid? ‘Cause we’re ready for more.

What I hadn’t anticipated—what we all underestimate—is how much passion people really possess. We all have it, this passion for life. No matter how tired or burnt out or overworked or unengaged we are, we still have it. It’s what keeps us going, this fire, this inexplicable passion for life.

The ARCS participants with whom I spoke have been with the organization anywhere from three months to sixteen years, most coming from extensive backgrounds in social outreach. But the work with ARCS was what they wanted to talk about. One counsellor described the AIDS virus as a terrible weapon bent on destruction and eradication of a species. Another spoke of the grief that takes a new form in every client she sees. But beyond talk of destruction and grief was something much greater. There was talk of community, and of hope. There was talk of the necessity of support, and of how heavily the counselors and administrators in the organization rely upon one another. And there was laughter, and there was joy, and there was passion and compassion shared among kindred spirits who all knew they were fighting the same battles for the same reason.

We sometimes refer to ourselves at Creative Leaps as ‘change agents.’ When you get down to it, though, we’re not changing anything. We’re not performing alchemy, and we’re not giving anything to anybody that they don’t already have. You can’t give a person passion. But you can—and we do—remind them of what’s already there, bubbling inside, distilling, waiting to be voiced.

—Krista Apple, actor and Creative Leaps artist

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