Sunday, January 18, 2015

Passion. Exhausting or Exhilarating?

Today I listened to a 19 year old young woman give a talk about embarking on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She has been called to Taipei, Taiwan and leaves in 17 days. After a few weeks learning the basics of a new language (spoken AND written) and about the missionary discussions she will be teaching, she'll be thrust into the most amazing adventure she's ever experienced.

But what I loved most about her talk today was her passion for everything she cares about--the Gospel, her family, her beliefs--everything. And I thought about how, at that young age when the world is open to you and anything seems possible, enthusiasm like that is so pure. It isn't until we're older and knocked around by Life a little that passion often makes way for cynicism.

It made me think of a line from the Cinderella adaption, Ever After, where the prince says to his future princess, "How can you live every day with such passion? Don't you find it exhausting?"

Passion (from the Latin verb patere meaning to suffer) is a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion, compelling enthusiasm or desire for anything.
Passion may be a friendly or eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, discovery, or activity or love – to a feeling of unusual excitement, enthusiasm or compelling emotion, a positive affinity or love, towards a subject. (from Wikipedia)

Yes. Passion CAN be exhausting.

When I think of the definition of that word in terms of "intense emotion," I broaden that meaning to include being very sensitive to things, sensitive to how one treats another, sometimes caring to the point of distraction.

There are times I feel things so deeply that I need to have a little talk with myself. It isn't necessarily a flaw, it's just how I'm wired. Usually it is directed toward some injustice I've witnessed, a person who didn't get the credit he/she deserved, or empathy for a child or animal being mistreated.

I'm not saying these feelings are right or wrong, but they certainly present the person feeling that way with some choices. Step in--maybe where you don't belong--or take the route of indifference? Speaking from personal experience, the route of indifference usually leads to guilt because you can't  "un-feel" something once you've felt it. Changing how you feel about something or someone is usually a long process, but it isn't the same as erasing the emotion.

"Even as we seek to be meek and to avoid contention, we must not compromise or dilute our commitment to the truths we understand. We must not surrender our positions or our values....'Loving-kindness' is required, but a follower of Christ--just like the Master--will be firm in the truth."   --Elder Dallin H. Oaks
As difficult as it may be sometimes, it's OK to stand up for Truth and for what you believe in. There's a right way and a wrong to say everything. And if you want someone to really hear you, choose the way of respect and kindness. Disagreement and contention will never happily coexist. But disagreement and respect will...and do.

And yes, Passion can also be very exhilarating!

Channeling energy towards personal betterment that benefits others too is a wonderful thing. I experienced this (accidentally) during my weight loss journey. While throwing myself passionately into exercising more and eating less--chronicling the odyssey on my other blog--suddenly I was getting calls, emails, and Facebook messages from people asking how I was losing weight. Even better, I had people telling me I inspired them. Me, just doing my thing to lose a few pounds, inspiring others. How awesome is that?

As I come full circle with these thoughts, thinking of the unblemished passion of youth, I believe the cynicism that often appears later is very much within our control. We need to have little interviews with ourselves and ask what we are putting out in the world--positivity or negativity?  The word "Positivity" is a little weird, isn't it? Do you think it is because we don't hear it enough? Or practice it enough?

Whatever you're doing, whether it is changing the world or changing the sheets on a bed, do it with POSITIVE passion. If we each do this from our own little patchwork square in the world we can make a quilt that covers a bigger area that we ever imagined.

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