Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What's Your Passion?

I can't really complain about my evening. Aside from getting some concert tickets, I purchased bus tickets to Chicago for $10.50, some self-adhesive mustaches for the yet-to-be-planned mustache party (couldn't pass them up for $1!), perused some used books, munched some tacos, laughed til my side hurt at Jon Stewart, geeked out at Stephen Colbert's Harry Potter reference, and soaked up the imensity of Radiohead on the The Colbert Report. All in all, a good night.
But, even as I sit here,  contented with my evening, my heart swells at the thought of my step-dad and his sister, as about now they are probably opening their eyes, giving sleep the hoof with one final yawn, zipping up their luggage, and heading out for day five of their 11 day European tour. I've said this multiple times in the last 5 days, but I am so excited for them. Jim and Charla work so hard here in the heartland. So hard, they very rarely get to escape it, even to other parts of the U.S. But in a moment of what I'm going to call "clarity," Charla looked around and said something like "Hey. I think there might be more to life. Jim, let's go see the world."
And they went.
And my heart, as mentioned above, swelled.
It swelled because they are doing what I love above anything in the world: traveling. It swelled because their eyes are going to be opened in the way that only travel can. (Mark Twain seems to agree with me.) It swelled because by them taking this trip, somehow I feel more connected to them. And I feel more connected to them because, no matter their thoughts on this trip, they are partaking in what I can only call my passion.
Google (or use one of those cool, old, bulky things known as a "dictionary") the word "passion" and you'll see a heavy relation to the word "suffer." Indeed, the very root of the word means "suffer."
Funny, suffering is not usually what comes to mind when I hear the word "passion."
I blame Hollywood.
But put a "The" in front of it, and you find a pretty intense image of passion as suffering.
Buddhists also link passion and suffering, though their method is to elimante passion (desires) so as to eliminate suffering. Probably why I'm not a Buddhist. Nice temples, though. But I get it. I get why one would wish to eliminate passions/desires. As we've seen in the etymology of the word, to have passion can ulitimately cause suffering. I've seen it. I've been apart of it. I've prayed and cryed and begged for longings to be taken away from me. Having unfulfilled passion hurts. A lot. It hurts so much it often feels like your heart is going to rip itself out of your ribcage, burst through your chest, and hurtle itself to the floor in a temper-tantrum-like protest.
(Reminder-"passion" doesn't only refer to "lusty desire for another person"..or even have to be about a person at all)
But on the flip side, passion, when fulfilled, brings life. The night I broke into the U2 concert. The few precious days I get to be at the ocean. The moment I clear security, strap on my backpack, and for the love that is all pure, holy, and good, get to travel. These moments when passion is fulfilled are the moments that  make my blood pulse in my veins so hard I can feel it. They cause my legs to do unintentional jumping and dancing motions. They make my words come out in a short, somewhat unitelligible manner. (More than they already do.) In short, I am alive, and it is things such as travel, music, writing, the ocean, nature, and yes, sometimes even my bookclub that bring me life.
But I've noticed...
SO many people are content to live a passionless existance. "What brings you life?" they are asked. And they shrug. They don't know. They haven't thought about it. And I'm blown away. I am disheartened and honestly quite sad for them. I mean, I guess if they're happy, fine, go along with what works for you. But I don't get it. I cannot fathom a passionless life. I can't do it. I refuse to do it.
So, if you haven't thought about what brings you life, what you are passionate about, what makes your heart hurt with longing without it and swells to the point of bursting with it, I urge you to think about it. And if you know what you're passionate about, share them here. Or at least with someone. And then, find a way to incorporate it into your life today. Because your life deserves more than a shrug.

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