Passion: Set yourself ablaze




Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted… unbidden… it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us… passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we’d know some kind of peace… but we would be hollow… Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we’d be truly dead.-Joss Whedon



If we could only focus on one thing to enrich our lives, to guide our journey, and to teach us how to truly live, that thing would be Passion.  If you want to learn how to embrace every moment, lend weight to every action, and capture your potential, then you must learn how to develop and harness Passion.  Without Passion we are walking corpses, good for nothing but the grave.  Until we learn to find and wield our Passion we will be lost in this life, but when our Passion is discovered and followed for even one day, then our greatness bursts forth and our lives take on a legendary sheen.


Most men and women of our generation have lost their Passion.  It is the single biggest determent to one’s life and I believe it accounts for the malaise that covers our young men today.  If you were to ask the average Joe on the street what his passion was, he would look at you, stunned and flustered, before saying something like money, love, or fame.  Money is not a passion.  Love is not a passion.  Fame is not a passion.  They are simply outcomes of following our passions, the rewards of living a passionate life, and the means by which we can further our causes.  The failing of our generation to realize this has led many to lead “quiet lives of desperation” seeking the benefits of passion and ignoring their true passions in the process.  This must end, if we are to live lives of greatness.  We will never attain happiness and success by chasing the shadows of success, rather than where our Passions lead us.


What is Passion and where do I get some?


The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars. ~Jack Kerouac


We have discussed what Passion is not, so what exactly is Passion anyway?  Passion as we shall define it here, and as it pertains to seizing life and adventure, can be summarized as the belief and force that there is something worth attaining, that there are dreams worth sacrificing everything for, that there are certain things and actions that so empower our souls that we must follow them or die inside.  Passion is the belief that every moment of life is precious and worth more than a millennia of gold, it is the belief that those around us are worthy of our all, it is the knowledge that we only have one chance to seize every opportunity that presents itself.  Passion is a fire that burns in one’s gut, telling you that without following your heart you will simply die.  Passion is the moment when you stand on a great precipice, surveying the unfolding beauty all around you and feel both small and huge at the same time.  Passion is seeing what life is about and going mad working to accomplish that goal no matter what.


There are two, distinct, yet entwined, types of Passion.  The first is a general Passion for life.  This is the realization that we only have one shot at this thing called life, no matter what your beliefs on an afterlife; the fact is we will all die and now is the only chance we have to live on this Earth.  Passion for life opens your eyes to the unique possibilities of each and every moment and to the fact that we have a limited amount of time to show love to one another and leave the world a better place.  This kind of Passion will allow you to enjoy all of your life, even the moments of drudgery and soul crushing defeat.  When you allow your Passion for life to be recognized and influence your decisions, you are galvanized to act and take pleasure in all things big and small.  This is the first step to abiding happiness and contentment.


The second kind of Passion refers to the Passion that is unique to you.  We all have certain talents and abilities, things that inspire joy when we are doing them and come to us, maybe not easily, but with great worth.  Each of us has unique Passions that we are especially suited for and that make us feel alive when we are pursuing them.  These passions range from writing, to building, to caring for others, to painting, to fitness, and the list goes on and on, the point being that when we are attuned to our unique Passions and live our lives following them, we accomplish great things and die satisfied.


Now, if you are life me, you are wondering how do I get some of that?  Since Passion is missing in our lives and we don’t even know how we missed it, how can we rediscover its joy and purpose?


First, Live each day with death in mind.  This might sound morbid and counter intuitive to many of you, and I guess in a way it is, but when we keep our minds focused on the fact that one day we will all die, it helps us to focus on the here and now.  When you embrace the fact that every moment that goes by, is another moment that you have lost, you begin to cherish the now, instead of dwelling on the past or living in the future.  You only get one chance to make the world a better place and to show others love, so take it.  This knowledge stokes the fire in your soul to see life as it truly is, not as you hope it will be someday.


Second, Open your eyes to the beauty all around you.  Life has the tendency to dull our senses, we see the same things day after day, and the novelty wears off.  We lose sight of what is all around us and instead focus on the “ideal” somewhere out in the future.  When we do this we are cheating ourselves and everyone around us.  We are stifling the very things that give us Passion and instead are focusing on pipe dreams.  When you look around and actually See your wife, your friends, the people on the street, you will be overwhelmed with the beauty and glory of love and life teeming all around you.  If that doesn’t inspire you to joy and action, then you are truly dead.  There is beauty in the flowers and the weeds, the birds and the bugs, the rich and the poor; once you see that truth, life will never be the same.


Third, Live a life of gratitude.  Be thankful for every day that you are allowed to take part in this wonderful journey.  If you believe in God, then thank God, if you don’t than just be thankful luck put you here for another day.  Take time each day to think about what you are thankful for, name them, write them, sing them, whatever!  When you realize what you do have already, it makes you less depressed and envious of what you have yet to achieve.  When we take time to be grateful and cherish this gift of life, we are empowered to aspire to new heights and be content with what we currently have.


Fourth, Discover your unique Passions, hone them, and share them with the world.  Think about what things you are good at or would like to be good at, if there is an action or attitude that makes you feel alive when you are doing it, then chances are that is your Passion.  We tend to have more than one Passion and that is okay, you can focus on more than one over the course of your life.  After discovering what revs your engine, then set about perfecting it.  Read everything you can about it, practice it, tell everyone who will listen, then once you have begun to master it share it with the world.  Your Passions are always geared to making the world a better place, so follow them (with Purpose and Discipline, which we will get into later).


With Passion comes Greatness


 Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.  ~Henri-Frédéric Amiel


When a person discovers their Passions, they discover the key to unlocking the great potential of their lives.  Looking through history, what would George Washington have been without Passion?  Would we have cared about Martin Luther King, Jr, if he hadn’t embraced his Passions and shared them with the world?  Would men like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett attain such success if not for following their passions?  Of course not, without passion the world is a hallway full of locked doors.


When we are able to embrace Passion we find we have the lock pick to success. 


Take two great men whom I deeply admire, men of legend and deep Passion, Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir.  Theodore Roosevelt is a case study in Passion; his life is inspiring and the breadth of his achievements mind-boggling.  John Muir is the father of the Conservation movement and The Sierra Club; he devoted his life to his passions for nature and stirred the country around him.  When President Roosevelt set about touring the great wildernesses of America, he came to know John Muir when the two set about exploring the wilds of Yosemite.  John Muir had made it his life’s work to explore and catalog all the wonders of nature and the western wilderness and in Roosevelt found a kindred spirit.  Roosevelt grew up with a passion for nature and spent many years learning about the natural world and then exploring it.  When the two men camped together their mutual passions caused them to be inspired and seek to convince America to start the National Park Service to protect and Conserve the wilds of America for all to enjoy.  Today we can thank these two men for following their Passions, for attaining recognition and fame, and then using that to create a gift that the rest of us could partake of.  Without John Muir’s Passion for Nature, which lead him to hike 1,000 miles as a young man, and Theodore Roosevelt’s Passion for everything, which of course explains how he became the youngest President, Governor of New York, leader of the Rough Riders, the beauty of our natural landmarks may have been lost.


This is but one example of the great things that one can accomplish when one follows one’s Passion.  What can I expect, you might ask, well you can expect whatever you can dream.  With Passion to fuel you, nothing is unattainable.


That’s all well and good, but what about tomorrow, what will change about that?


Well for one, you might actually look forward to waking up in the morning.  You will be thankful for another day to hear birds, kiss your spouse, and play with your kids.  You will begin to feel a sense of purpose, a dream or goal you want to start working towards, something that you can put your passions to use in.  You will be able to take joy in the little things, the smell of coffee, the sound of traffic, and the view from your backdoor; you will even begin to see little glimmers of hope in the annoyances of life.  In short, you will begin to feel a spark, maybe not a lot, but a start.  If you take time to nurture that spark, to feed it, and protect it, it will grow day by day until it consumes your life and sets the world on fire around you.  All of your dreams begin with that little spark that you will choose to embrace tomorrow, that is what will be different.


One final word, don’t confuse Passion with easy.  Just because you have discovered your Passion for life, doesn’t mean hardships won’t come and you will never work again, what it does mean is that you will have the power to overcome any obstacle in your way.  You will see these setbacks as fuel to strengthen the flames of your Passion and they will propel you further along.  When we rediscover our Passion and embrace the Passionate life, we inspire others and enrich the world.  Right now we are not much more than smoldering ash, passions that have burned out and been forgotten, but tomorrow that spark will stir up the ashes and before you know it, nothing will be able to put you out.


Man is so made that when anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish. ~Jean de la Fontaine



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