What is passion?

What is passion? I admit to being uncertain while feeling as though I am in the grip of it. I believed in so many things when I was younger: the endless possibilities of truth, love and positive, life-enhancing change.

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I thought that as I aged I might somehow grow colder… Not in the sense of becoming distant; more like ‘simmering down’. Perhaps I would relax into the mellow zone and learn to mow lawns.

This has not happened. The things which used to matter to me have become even more important, and I feel like I’m on fire. They burn inside me with indignation, and sometimes even anger. I felt the same in my twenties, but I lacked focus.

I realise that zeal can be dangerous, intoxicating and volatile. I have also grasped what is for me, another fundamental truth: people do not understand passion when they see it.

At the extreme risk of sounding cynical, I would say that passion is out of fashion. Indifference is in. Speak to your average Jack or Jill in the street, and try to discover their point of view – many people seem to have none, simply accepting the status quo.

If passion can seem annoying and heated, indifference is the death of the spirit.

It’s hard to find someone who cares much any more here in England. It is very easy to make the right noises, but a life well lived is not about mere words – words must turn into actions or all is vapour. There is a saying I remember from long ago, ‘What are words but wind?’

But here I am again, straying from my point. What is passion? How can one be on fire with such an ill-defined emotion? Some would call it sublimated sex, others would ascribe it to a type of temporary madness. But I know it’s an all consuming force.

We are not talking about a passing fancy for horse racing, or a crazy desire to take up origami. Passion should be seen as fundamental, driving us forwards to some barely perceived goal.

Before I wrote this piece I went looking for some interesting quotes, and I was surprised by what I found. For example Balzac said, ‘Passion is universal humanity. Without it religion, history, romance and art would be useless.’

It is a power buried deep in the psyche, struggling to burst free. It is the antithesis of indifference, and believe me… It’s not easy to live with in such difficult times as these.



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