I’m on a quest to reclaim my passion. When did it leave? Why is it absent? Where did it go? I guess I could spend time and a lot of angst trying to answer those questions but does it matter? What matters is that I am passionless. What matters even more is that I want my passion back.
Over the last several years my life has gone through massive changes. The impact of those events and the ensuing new phase of life I’ve entered has caused a lot of internal confusion. The result is that I’ve lost my way and, in the process, my passion. Is my passion gone? No. It’s more a matter of my having taken a u-turn. I am now further away than closer to my heart’s desire. In the process I’ve grown frustrated, even angry. I try things and I’m left empty. The vision that once guided me is a dim memory.
Earlier this week I realized I was mired in the weeds, tangled in their roots. I’d come to a standstill. It didn’t feel like one because I was thrashing about in a non-stop effort to to make things happen. Sure, I’d been busy. Yes, even working on what I defined as writing projects. But this is where the break with reality had occurred: I wasn’t writing. I was doing things related to writing but not writing. I had created this massive umbrella that allowed me to cover all my activities under the guise of writing. I was convinced I was moving forward in pursuit of my passion. In those rare moments when I asked the big question, I always answered with a resounding yes.
But stuffed inside was a roiling, boiling pressure indicating something was wrong. Instead of addressing the issue, I plunged ahead. If I kept doing what I was doing, if I completed my tasks, that pressure would be relieved–or so I thought. This week the volcano blew. My inner landscape came up and slapped me with a face-to-face confrontation challenging me to answer the question of whether I was pursuing my passion.
I had to answer no.
How about you? Are you working and writing out of a true state of passion or is everything you are doing arising out of a wellspring of fear?
What is passion?
Today we seem to have a watered down version of the original meaning of passion. You’ll find people talking about their passion in the sense of it being a “barely controllable emotion,” a “state or outburst of strong emotion,” an “intense desire or enthusiasm for something,” or a “thing arousing great enthusiasm.” These are all acceptable definitions as defined by the best of dictionaries. That’s all well and good but does it really differentiate the passion for something that is so strong that it drives a person to put all else aside? That’s the passion I’m talking about, the intense longing for something that is so compelling it makes a claim upon your life.
The true definition of passion
According to my trusty online version of The Oxford Dictionary, the word “passion” has its origins in Middle English. It’s from Old French, from the late Latin passio(n-). In terms of actual usage it sprang from Christian theology. The Latin root of the word is pati meaning “suffer.” So, while the many promoters of passion today might waft eloquently about the rush and blush of passion and the excitement of its pursuit, the true test of passion has a dark side.
For those who have a true passion to write, this is not a surprise. Every artist understands this on some level. They take up the quest for art for art’s sake and start down the path with an open heart and the promise of great things. But all too soon the landscape changes. No longer is it the smooth path with clear signs pointing the way. Soon they are climbing over rubble, sliding into icy ravines, and falling over cliffs. The way is no longer a lighthearted romp, it’s a hostile environment.
Will you meet the test?
Here lies the true test of passion. The work says, “Do you love me?” We answer, “Yes.” The work says, “How much?” We answer with our walk.
Are you willing to go the distance? Will you get up every single day and renew your commitment to your passion by doing what you say you love? For writers it’s easy to comply when the words come and the characters talk and the plot slams together in a moment of vision. But what about those times when the darkness descends, when, as E.L. Doctorow says, “you never see further than your headlights?” Do you get in the chair, turn on the computer, open the file and write anyway? Or do you hide, stay away, avoid doing what you say you love above all else?
Are you gripped by an intensity, a love for something so strong, that you are willing to follow it whereever it takes you no matter what? How you respond reveals whether you have a true passion. There is no promise of a happy ending. There is the daily pursuit. In the first seconds of a new day, you hear passion call. In the last seconds of that passing day, you acknowledge your answer.
How will you answer today?