To be passionate is human.
Somewhere at the foundations of the human person lies an incredible fount, capable of propelling a person almost entirely by willpower against incredible odds. Yet many of us do not use this fount. I can’t help but notice a lack of passion in our society at large. Truthfully, I was once an apathetic teen concerned only for my own kicks and jollies, but I was lead by curiosity on a magnificent and unpredictable journey.
Life never needs to be boring.
Life is a battlefield. It’s an adventure filled with brilliant potential and amazing opportunities. There are many chances to grow and to search, to indulge our inner child with mystery and simple joys. Even while waiting in a line at the grocery store there is opportunity to give thanks for our blessings, to appreciate beauty, to ask questions and meditate on the answers, or to acknowledge the presence of the people who wait near by, living through the same toils of life that we are.
Passion and curiosity go hand in hand.
Why did Bilbo leave on the greatest journey of his life? Aside from some gentle peer pressure, he was curious. Bilbo decided to entertain his curiosity, and it brought about a necessary step in the salvation of Middle Earth. Could you imagine how dull science would be without curiosity? Passion and curiosity are highly integrated creatures. They often coincide together, strengthening one another. Often, just when things get tough, it’s our peckish desire to know what’s just around the corner, that pushes us to take a few more steps. Curiosity and passion can be taken too far, but they have to be used before they can be overused. I have seen in my own life how curiosity lead to my passion for knowledge and understanding.
On a whim I decided to travel for one year spending time in several different countries. It was during this trip that my hunger for knowledge was born. I became insatiable, reading as much as I could. Eventually, my actions became altered by my pursuit of knowledge. I improved my eating habits, behaved differently towards people, tried to have conversations that challenged myself and those I conversed with. My growth occurred in stages. First, a hunger; second, a change in behaviour; finally, my beliefs changed, which affected everything I did and experienced from within. My journey, like Bilbo’s, began by entertaining my curiosity.
Curiosity and passion are essential to human life.
A life lived without passion and a deep curiosity becomes dried out and brittle as time passes. There are vast amounts of questions that beg to be asked. They could be of the immeasurable and magnificent, like the origins of our universe or of its size and complexity; we might inquire into the tiny and beautiful, like the beauty of a flower or the life that surrounds us everywhere. We can also ask questions pertaining to human life, like, why do we love or what is the meaning of consciousness?
I wince every time I see someone, the second there’s a lull in their conversation, pull out their phone. Could you imagine if a husband was making love to his wife and there was a less entertaining moment so he decided to check his text messages? She’d slap him halfway to India, and she’d be right to do it. The stark reality is that this is the direction we are heading in. It takes a lot of work and focus to appreciate the beauty within another human being. Many seek only to be entertained, not to participate in a communal journey filled with peril and adventure.
We are made for joy, for laughter, for communion.
We are made to find fulfillment in life, to seek after the unknown, to find ourselves delightfully lost on an adventure. A virtual adventure does not count, it must be lived first hand. We must feed our hunger for good things, and actively remove the things from our life which are opposed to this action.
I offer an alternative.
Instead of meeting with friends and turning on the TV, take a risk. Embrace a journey with a friend, get to know each other better. Take the time and energy to engage in real conversation. It is possible to bond while the TV is on, but it’s a little like trying to learn calculus while operating a band saw. Human attention is notoriously bad when focused on two separate stimuli. The human being should be the priority. It’s scary, but it’s worth it.
Love is the greatest passion.
Finding its source in the love of God, passion is a gift and a fire which can be kindled. This kindling is the most fulfilling process a person can undergo. It gives strength where there was fear, and patience in times of suffering. To love another, fully with one’s whole heart, consumes a person to their brink, leaving them fatigued, but drawing in deep breaths of cool air, murmuring again and again, thank you, I love you.
My own hunger for truth, which began in earnest during my overseas trip, lead to some pretty incredible choices. I sacrificed my possessions, comfort, and safety in order to pursue a hunch that there was something hidden and secretive, yet beautiful and inviting deep within life itself. Always, I am grateful I was given such courage. I do not suggest that everyone must follow my path, but that each person has their own journey awaiting them.
Fear is the ultimate poison of passion.
A close friend opened my eyes to one central emotion which is the arch nemesis of passion. Fear. It gnaws away at us slowly from the inside; it leads us to make safe or easy choices solely to avoid risk. Almost all great tales involve a protagonist willing to risk everything for something they are passionate about. Few stories get retold so often (Romeo and Juliet for example) as a tale of a lover overcoming their fear and risking everything for their beloved.
Can you remember your first childhood crush? Do you remember how your blood pulsed through your veins and how it felt like every atom in your body was alive? In that moment we experience two things most prominently, a desire to be with our “crush” and an agonizing fear that we might blow it if we try. It’s this same fear that prevents every day people from becoming the next Michelangelo, Beethoven, or Mark Twain. The devastation of pouring our heart and soul into something and still failing can be too much. Being judged for our efforts can weigh heavily on our choices. It is on this battlefield, however, that true greatness is born. It is here that saints, poets, artists, writers, musicians, and athletes alike find something quintessential to human existence. Life! Breathing, intoxicating, magnificent life.
Much the same as love, pain and passion are inseparable.
To love someone is the greatest outpouring of a heart, consequently, to live with passion is the greatest conquest of a life. To live in fear of pain will only lead to pusillanimity. A life lived for the sake of ease is mundane; a life lived in the pursuit of comfort is threadbare, but a life lived in pursuit of the heart’s deepest desires, is nothing short of fulfilling.