Without passion, life can start to look bleak. Without an intense burning for something greater or something more, our soul begins to decay. Yet most of us are content to live our lives mostly without it. We let passion spontaneously pop up in our lives at the beginning of a new relationship or when we become entrenched in a great book but it’s rarely something we pursue and it’s certainly never something with actively try to cultivate.
Yet, when we are fully entrenched in our passion, we are the most alive and happy we ever feel. Perhaps we are content not to cultivate it because passion comes packaged with a down side. Something we rarely talk about, but that we all know exists. A liability that promises the come down will be just as great as the initial uptick in happiness. Sometimes even worse.
But still, for one reason or another, we were put here with an insatiable desire to create. To strive and to triumph as well as to face the inevitable crushing defeat that threatens to take us out of the game. And that’s exactly the part that scares us back into our routines and our safe choices.
Humans, unlike any other animal, have the innate ability to look at nothing and to make it into something. To take a blank canvas that thousands would walk by without a second glance and turn it into an introspective piece with layers so deep, onlookers can’t help but look into their own being when faced with it. But like I said, creating such beauty doesn’t come without a catch.
When you strive for such a work of art and you come up short, the hurt can run deep. The fact is that sometimes you go out on a limb and the limb breaks. And there’s nothing you can do about it other than try to gain perspective. To realize that was actually never the limb you were meant to be on. Or perhaps, that maybe you just need to change your approach before you start climbing.
And when that happens, when you stand up and the universe sits you back down, it’s ok to take time and regroup. We live in an age of social media memes that would have you believe you can’t ever accept failure. We live in a time of motivational speakers that would have you believe the problem is you if you’re not feeling motivated. But to deny the hard parts of life or to pretend they don’t exist would be to take the human element out of it completely. It’s ok to stop and catch your breath. To figure out your next move. To wonder what in the fuck it’s all for.
Just remember, when you get the wind knocked out of you, you aren’t actually going to die. It just feels like you are in the moment.
When you start a new business venture or create something the world doesn't necessarily appreciate, the allure of a safer choice or path can be great. The problem is that a sedentary routine is like plaque for the soul. Part of you shuts off and that part can only be re awakened when you start to go for it again. When you come into alignment with what deep down, you really want to be doing.
If you hide from that part of you for long enough, it will eventually stop calling. And you’ll be transformed into someone else. Or at least, a different version of who you could have been. Maybe you become more tame or more cynical or maybe just more risk averse. It’s hard to tell how a vision for your life that’s never quite realized will actually play out.
You’ve most likely been told before that you “have so much potential.” Many of us, myself included make it a habit of resting on that potential. On that being enough because if we have potential but we don’t ever pursue it, we’re safely guarded from the defeat of it not working out. The part that most people fail to realize however, is that potential is conditional.
The condition is based on you pursuing all of the things that you feel drawn to. In essence, your interests are an invitation to your potential. If you do pursue them, if you pull all of the threads that you feel drawn to, it is equally hard telling what doors might open up along the way. What happens in the process of learning new things and pursuing passion is that you realize that who you are now isn’t good enough to get where you really want.
So you get in shape, you drink less, you study more, you save more, you do all sorts of things that might align with the life you really want. And you do those things out of desire instead of doing them because “you know you should.” You train for a marathon because you want to finish a marathon. You study for the GRE because you really want to go to grad school.
Doing either of those things out of some misguided feeling like you “should,” is only going to feel forced and more than likely, end in failure. It is passion for what you really want that will pull you through most of life’s difficult experiences. It is a feeling of obligation to workout that is why the gyms are no longer packed come mid February. Someone else's desires for your life aren’t strong enough to keep you motivated.
With every interest you pursue, you are stepping closer to fulfilling your potential. This is also because when you become engrossed in something, in the process of something you love, the matter that makes up your character is transformed. You’re happier and healthier as you become equipped with new capabilities. In other words, the best version of you is contingent on you stepping back out on a limb, regardless of how many limbs might break in the process.
If you ignore your deepest desires because of fear, you’re giving a bit of your potential away. You’re walling in part of your soul that would rather shine and you’re letting the smallest part of you win. The part that’s scared and doesn’t want to disappoint anyone or to look stupid. And that’s the last part of you that you want in the driver’s seat. They’re going to make decisions that don’t serve the real you. Decisions that land you in a cubicle when you’d rather be in wide open spaces. Decisions that leave you feeling trapped instead of free and lonely when you're surrounded by people instead of fulfilled when it’s just you and your thoughts.
The pain that often accompanies the process of growth hurts more when we’re resistant to it. When we don’t let it teach us what it wants us to know. We mistake the pain for something we should avoid when the fact is that it is simply trying to guide us into the person we could be. Like it or not, we aren’t meant for static utopia so all of the wind and the rain and storms and the pain are inevitable if you are ever going to get to where you’re supposed to be in life. To where you could be.
When you find yourself in hell because what you really wanted didn’t manifest, the smallest parts of us want to run. To say “screw the passion” and to get the fuck out of there. To cower back to what’s safer and will protect us from so much heartache. But you and I aren’t made for cowering. We’re built to prioritize growth over safety.
If you ever want to be who you really could be, don’t run from the flames, learn to sit within them. Learn to look around until you find what you need. You might find that life isn’t a matter of seeking heaven by avoiding hell but rather, that getting to heaven first requires that you face hell.