James Shelley 3/12/2011:
The word “passion” comes from the Latin passio, which implied suffering and the endurance of hardship. To be passionate, truly passionate, demands a willingness to suffer for the object or cause of your passion. It is unswerving commitment in spite of pain and loss. Rooted in either cocksure confidence or calculated commitment, a passionate person earns their title because of their unflinching persistence in the face of opposition.
There can be no passion without the experience of personal loss: until one suffers, one’s passion is not exposed. your passion is not what makes you feel comfortable — the things you are passionate about will probably make your life less comfortable. Potentially miserable, actually.
As a culture, we seem somewhat confused by the idea of passion. We confuse passion with personal opinion. We misinterpret passion as the pleasures that inject us with feel-good emotions. Too many of us are inoculating our pursuit of passion with fancy declarations of preference.
Placating ourselves with the opinion of the day and heralding our propensity for corporate brands is not progress. Instead it is a lazy and poor placebo for the deep reflective and meditative mind work required to fertilize passions that are praiseworthy, beautiful, healing and transformative in the world. Our neutered version of passion in North America is much like the mental equivalent of a LazyBoy.
Although passion may at times appear dangerous, the planet does not need less human passion right now, it needs more passion than ever before — passion that refuses to be immunized by the lulling caress of consumption and the crippling inundation of knowledge.