As I write this I am recuperating on the sofa from my annual pilgrimage to the San Diego Comic-Con, home to all things that I love: superheroes, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, pop culture, art and movies. You know that I’m a geek and a bit of tomboy, so it shouldn’t surprise you that “the Con” feels like home in many ways (if you can call hanging out with 150,000 nerds for five days “home”).

Going to this event is always a test of my will and commitment, as I wander the vast floors of the San Diego Convention Center and stand in lines as though I am a healthy geek. I approach these five days with the understanding that I will be in pain—a lot of pain. Swelling is a given, no number of chai lattes will keep sleep attacks at bay, and Comic-Con food will only make my stomach hurt, and yet I persevere.

So why do I do it? Why do I subject myself to three hours of sleep on a given night to get in line for panels? How do I handle more miles of walking in one day than I usually get in a week? Well, I do take some precautions like carrying chairs and healthy food with me, but there’s something more.Kristin's Comic-Con High

It all comes down to passion. Passion and it’s often accompanying emotion, excitement, can do wonders to fuel your achy arthritis legs, wake you up from a much needed deep sleep and urge you past the most exquisite physical pain in your butt from sitting on unpadded chairs for hours straight. I suspect you know what I’m talking about: a single moment, like getting up on Christmas morning or for your favorite cartoon when you were little, when you could give into your pain and fatigue, but instead you keep pushing through. This is not to be confused with those other moments when we push through because of obligation, expectation or someone yelling at us! This is about the most authentic energy that comes from your heart.

As I come down from my Comic-Con high, I am processing a big lesson about passion and pain. While I commit myself to this convention every year, I haven’t committed my life to the things I am most passionate about. I’ve allowed pain to be an excuse for letting go of my passions. I’ve allowed arthritis to dictate my decisions. When I do that, joy slips away. We know better than most people that we’ve only got one life—and it might be a short, complicated life—so what’s it going to take to let the passion back in? I’m on a mission to find out.

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