"I'm passionate about so many things."
I hear this phrase a lot. Especially with people in their 20s.
We are the generation cursed with endless opportunity. 500 years ago if my last name was Builder I'd be a builder. If my name was Spears that's probably what I would make for a living.
But our names no longer shape who we will become, and it seems as though the sky is the limit when it comes to what we could do with our lives.
It's a time of amazing privilege. And it's an incredible annoyance.
Consequently we are the generation that is "passionate about so many things." But I don't think we mean it when we say it. What we usually mean is that we have the potential to be passionate about a lot of things...but we haven't decided what those things are going to be.
And while waiting for something to be passionate about we're passionate about nothing...not even figuring out what to be passionate about.
The word "passion" is an interesting word. I think when we use it most of the time we use it in the sense that we're interested in something, or that something energizes us or that we enjoy it.
In this sense people can be passionate about yogurtland and urban outfitter sales, nice cars and new iphones.
But this is only half of meaning of "passion."
The word "compassion" means literally "to suffer with." The word "passion" means simply "to suffer."
"The Passion of the Christ" is the narrative of the final hours of Jesus' life as he is executed by the Roman government.
Parents, almost all parents, are passionate about their kids. Children bring parents such joy and they require such great sacrifice. Gandhi was passionate about Indian independence. Martin Luther King, Jr. was passionate about Civil Rights and, later, the politics surrounding the Vietnam War. Children, Independence, Civil Rights, Peace. These are all things they suffered for. These were things they were passionate about.
Artists are passionate about art. Composing, writing, painting and dancing-- while all in some sense euphoric and pleasurable-- are also acts akin to giving birth. Sometimes creating just hurts.
You know you're passionate about something when you're willing to suffer for it.
So most of us aren't "passionate about a lot of things." That will only come once we have the courage to sink our teeth into something.
The world is full of causes worthy of our full devotion. Pick one and go.
Posted on Tue, August 4, 2009