random thoughts: of passions, impulses and involuntary actions


I've been thinking recently of what it means to be passionate about something.   In the past, I've always considered "passion" to mean "overwhelmed with emotion" -- that passion was all about extreme, vibrant, almost violent feeling.  People feel "passionate love" or "passionate anger" -- so I've always equated passion with an uncontrollable, unfettered emotion.  "Passion," to me, meant unbridled excitement.  Or ecstasy.

I'm not sure I believe that anymore.

I've been thinking about what I'm passionate about.  Like blogging, say, or photography, or, most recently, the planning of LIME.    And I've thought about ventures or hobbies that I used to be passionate about -- like SCUBA diving, or even law school.  And I realized that for me, "passion" isn't about losing control.   In my case, passion is more about being compelled to do something.  It is intense feeling, yes, but it's often very quiet.  It's surrendering.  It's knowing that I could probably stop at any time, and yet I just can't.   For me, it's often preceded by a sudden impulse, followed by an involuntary, dogged, almost robot-like pursuit.

"I should go to law school," I thought, and before I could even protest with myself, I was sending out applications to take the LSAT. 

"I should learn how to SCUBA dive," I mentioned to a friend, and 2 months later, we were diving off the coast of Baja California.

I even do this when it comes to relationships:  when I started dating Marcus, I remember calling my friend Trish from London, and saying, "this new guy and I:  we're nothing alike, and chances are you'll be laughing at me for even considering going out with him, on paper we seem so incompatible -- but I don't know, I just have to see this through."  Ten days later, Marcus and I were engaged.  That was almost 11 years ago, and I've never looked back.

Twelve months after our wedding, I said to Marcus, "We should become parents and adopt," and almost before he'd finished nodding his assent, I was calling adoption agencies.  Six months later, we were taking our daughter home from the hospital, 48 hours after witnessing her birth, and Marcus cut the cord. 

The thing is, in every single case, I don't know that my passion was loud.  It was more intenseInvoluntaryRelentless, even.  Like feeling myself caught in an ocean current, and instead of swimming against it or away from it, I found myself just surrendering to it.  Just because I knew I must.

Am I the only one who feels this way?  What does passion feel like for you?

SongDoing the wrong thing by Kaki King.  This is what passion sounds like to me.