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April 21st, 2018

The word ‘passion’ and the language that surrounds it today form some very destructive ideas. 

New-age books and speakers love to use this word and surrounding phrase. For good reason. It functions like a mythical promised land. Those who don’t have it dream of some idealized future when they might finally find it. Those who claim to have their passion, wheel it around like a grand prize in the identity game. For ‘new-age’ writers and speakers, this helps form a sort of inner sanctum that people who feel lost will PAY to get into, or PAY for the knowledge to enter this coveted space of identity.

This is a sham.

And it’s a shame that such language is so widespread throughout our culture. 

For those without a ‘passion’. They feel demoralized about themselves.

For those with a ‘passion’? Many of them wear it like a badge of accomplishment. Like the Easter egg was found, and now there is no more finding to do. This perspective limits. People who parade their passion in such ways are far less willing to explore new areas. Even if they don’t parade it around, this identity can still have the same effect internally on the mind.

This word and the language that surrounds it does not inspire people.

It divides and alienates.

(Perhaps it’s fitting that the etymology of the word ‘passion’ comes from the latin ‘pati’, meaning – ‘to suffer’. True to its roots, the word is doing it’s job.)

A new word is not needed. Simply a shift in focus. 

The problem with making this shift has to do with our innate love of certainty. A passion feels certain, well-defined. Reliable. This well-defined quality is what creates that strong mental division in the mind regarding those with a passion and those without a passion. The shift in focus must be away from this certainty, which is uncomfortable. But if that discomfort can be embraced, it will aid both the passionate and those who think they lack a passion far more.

How about this question:

What are you curious about?

Curiosity carries no serious commitment of identity. The concept is far more childlike, full of wonder, unafraid of mistakes, and wide-ranging. It is the opposite of the way that the word passion is limiting. If one’s ‘passion’ is a well defined box, curiosity is like a spot-light that wheels around and looks in all sorts of directions. But it lacks that comforting certainty, and that – I’m willing to bet – is why curiosity gets pushed aside by the grand idea of ‘a passion’.

As a sidenote: The threads of sado-masochism that run through the three major religions might also have something to do with this focus on passion instead of curiosity. A focus on suffering and being a glorious martyr has some obvious parallels to the cliché of a suffering-poor-struggling-artist.

It is doubling fitting that the root of the word curiosity is from the Latin curiosus – meaning ‘careful’, but not in the cautious sense, but as in being ‘full of care’ with regards to something.

This is what the passion-camp is trying to say: what do you care about? But that sounds lukewarm compared to the magnificent crepuscular force of the word Passion. But – drawing a box around something to highlight it invariably divides the world into those inside the box and those left outside – the very reason that passion and it’s surrounding language often undermines many people’s ability to explore and progress.

Forget about finding some passion. Waiting for some divine force to whisper it in your ear is a waste of the precious gift of time. Just look around, allow your curiosity to take the wheel and wander. Who knows what you’ll find.

Have a grand passion? If it’s so strong, so grand and so great. Then it can definitely stand up to the slings and arrows of some healthy doubt, some questioning, maybe even a hiatus. Who knows, maybe some curiosity in another field will help you make your next break-through regarding… whatever you’re passionate about.

Intense focus is great. But it’s always good to look up and around every once in a while. You might see that you’re focusing on the wrong thing.

Forget passion.

Find curiosity.

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 6: What's Your Passion?

Tinkered Thinking

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