We say the word and envision sparks, desire, an all-consuming burning love for something. We picture drama and fireworks.
True, sometimes passion can be like that. It’s all over the movies, so it must happen sometimes, right?
But what does it mean to be passionate about something? What does it mean to be passionate about your job, your work, your art, your music?
Some people tell me that they don’t have passion for anything. There’s just nothing that they’re passionate about. But I don’t think that’s quite true. I think that people just have the wrong idea of what it means to have passion for something.
I don’t leap out of bed every morning, panting with lust for my art. Not only is that unsustainable, I’d scare the shit outta Jesse every day.
It’s just not like that.
The passion I described above makes for great TV, but it’s not real. It’s a one night stand. If you want to have passion that lasts, you’ve got to nurture it, fanning the flames gently, not build a bonfire.
To have passion for something – real passion, not flash-in-the-pan-lust – it’s different. It burns, but steadily. There’s desire, but it’s a low, constant flame. It’s a desire to try, a desire to continue, a desire to stumble on even when you have no idea where you’re going or what you’re doing.
It makes you curious. You want to try new things, try different things. It makes you stubborn as hell – no matter how many times you screw up, you just keep on trying.
But most of all, it makes everything worth it.
Most passionate people could be mistaken for workaholics. They often work 12-15 hour days. They never stop talking about their passion. It’s on their minds 95% of the time. It’s like being in love, but past the honeymoon stage. You know that your passion snores, and picks their nose when you’re not looking, but you just don’t care.
You’re not wearing your rose-coloured glasses anymore – you can see the flaws. You know you’re working 12 hours a day. You know that often you screw up and you’ve got a lot to learn. You even think that you may not make a lot of money on this crazy lark. Sometimes you wanna tear your hair out because if you just cared a little bit less, you’d be able to let things go, but you don’t, so you can’t.
But it just doesn’t matter.
Because at the end of the day, you’re exhausted, but content. That’s something that some people don’t get about me. I swear at my paintings, get frustrated, yell at my easel, and just generally seem like I’m having the worst day ever when things go wrong.
But that’s temporary. Underneath that frustration is a deep-seated contentment. A satisfaction that no matter how wrong things are going, I’ve got a life that’s well-lived and filled with things I love.
It’s quiet, this contentment. It’ll never throw a party, or set off fireworks. But it’s steady. It’s always there. And it makes the day to day tedium of living your passion worth it.
Because let’s be honest – living your passion is not particularly exciting.
At least, not in the traditional sense. I think that’s the other misconception people have – that somehow, by doing something you’re passionate about, your days are filled to the brim with excitement.
I still have to clean my brushes. I still have to plan compositions and scrub out paintings and tidy up and dust and whatever. I still have to answer emails and order supplies and do my bookkeeping.
If you’re a dancer, your toes still bleed. If you’re a writer, you still have to edit.
It’s not exactly riveting stuff.
Oh dear. I seem to have made being passionate about something sound totally awful.
Let me backtrack a little bit.
Yes, we sometimes work long hours, do tedious tasks, and want to pull our hair out in frustration. Our lives are not glamourous and sexy. Our days are not filled with excitement and adventure.
But did I mention that we have a stupid grin plastered on our faces?
What I’m trying to explain (rather badly) is that passion isn’t something explosive and special. I think what often happens when people start to search for their passion is that they’re expecting fireworks. They’re waiting to be struck by lightning, or get a sign from the heavens that says, “Thee shall paint glorious pictures/write beautiful songs/design inspiring websites for the rest of thy days!”
Yeah, it doesn’t really work like that.
Some of us get lucky. We know almost straight off the bat what we want to spend the majority of our time doing. We know that dance or art or writing is what calls to us, what gives us that dopey grin.
But I don’t think that happens to most people. And because there’s this myth that that’s how it’s supposed to be, I think some people stop looking. Or don’t realize that you can have multiple passions.
And that makes me sad. It really, truly does. Because a life without passion – a life where you don’t spend a lot of time wearing that doe-eyed smile – is a hard life. It just strikes me that there isn’t a lot of joy there.
If you haven’t found your passion yet, that’s okay. It can take time. You just have to get curious about life. Find out what you like, find out what you don’t like. Try some of it. Play a little bit. Playing always leads to good things.
We live in a fantastic world where you can run a business doing almost anything. Passion isn’t limited to the arts. Maybe your passion is for helping people, or for sports, or for drilling perfect holes in wood. I don’t know.
But it’s never that you’re not passionate about anything. You’re just not passionate about anything yet.
Want a little more passion in your life? Check out some of my art, see if anything strikes your fancy. Go look at art.