On Passion

There are those people in the world who love something; they breathe it, drink it, fight for it, and live for it every day. It can be music (who’d be a starving musician if they didn’t love what they do), it can be math (whenever they have down time, they’re reading about Euclid or topology or something of the sort), it can really be anything. These people live for their subject. They do it. They love it. You can see these people standing in line for auditions on Broadway, working 80 hours a week on campaigns, and searching deep into the night for a scientific breakthrough. These people do great things. They fight for their passion.

But what is passion? Why do some people have it, and others don’t or have too many passions. Why can some people, without a second thought, throw all their eggs into one basket, and someone else not know what to do with theirs? How does passion manifest itself? And where?

When you think of those singularly driven individuals, you can try to define passion as a strong enthusiasm or desire to be involved with, surrounded by, or enveloped in a certain topic or subject. They love government and politics, and, while it’s hard work, can’t get enough of the campaign scene. They love music, and can’t imagine themselves doing anything else, even if they’re working a job or two on the side to make ends meet. For them, they have blinders on, in some sense. When it comes with what to do, they only have eyes on their passion.

That’s not to say the people that aren’t in this sort of situation don’t have passion, they can be passionate about many things. They can love subjects and truly enjoy doing things related to them. They cannot, however, singularly focus themselves on one of them, and push themselves towards that and only that. Unfortunately, this can leave them in a bit of a pickle, primarily with the whole “what do with one’s life” business.

If there isn’t one thing you’re passionate about, how can you go off and push yourself with the same gusto and vigor that others, the driven folk, can? It proves a real challenge, one not easily confronted. Ultimately you’ll probably end up having to choose one passion, and go for that, even if that’s a somewhat dissatisfying plan of action. Because the other passions may push themselves above the other one, and you may struggle with staying with the one you chose. Is this the right course of action?

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. In a perfect world, you’d find the one thing that combines all your passions, each included in some way big or small, and do that. And one should always have faith that there exists something out there that’s perfect for them. There is certainly enough uniqueness in the world for that. The best thing to do is probably just go out there. Pick a job that sounds interesting. If you don’t like it, find another. Eventually you’ll find your niche. Eventually your passion will find you.

While Knowledge May Be Power, Ignorance Most Definitely is Bliss

As a child, all you want is to be older. To be able to do more things, know more things, and see more things. But there’s a point you reach, where it suddenly seems like you’re sacrificing some unmeasurable amount of happiness due to your enhanced understanding. While you might know what’s best in the long run, or at least a logical course of action to take, it can seem counterproductive to having a good time. It’s something I’ve been realizing gradually now that I’m in my junior year of college, and something that troubles me. But it’s also just so fascinating.

The easiest example of this, for those that might not totally get what I’m saying, is playing video games. Video games are fun. A lot of fun. That’s their primary objective. But in doing so, they become a massive time sink. Therefore, I find myself delegating less and less time for them. There are many times that I felt the urge to start up Skyrim again, but what with homework, applications, work, and just wanting to feel productive (a huge part of it), I never do. Nevertheless, I know that I’d have a grand old time playing it. And that’s what I’m getting at, that need to feel productive you get as you age cause you to end up spending less and less time on those traditional “fun” things.

That being said, going for a hike with friends after fresh snow doesn’t feel like something that needs to be time-sensitive. So it’s not all fun things, just some. It’s the things that make you feel like you’re not growing as a person, at least how I see it, which causes the problems. That growing can happen in a number of different ways. When you’re hiking with friends, you’re making memories, getting some fresh air, and spending time with people you care about. The same can’t really be said about video games. Even playing video games with friends, something that feels a bit more productive than solo gaming since you’re spending time with others, still seems like something that could stagnantly go on and on.

The thing is, this idea of “growth” is just a construct of my mind, formed from my own experiences with the world outside my brain. Of course, as stereotypically articulated, it was partly made by society. Yet there has to be more to it than just that because there are people that, at least it seems, that aren’t affected by this like me. These people exhibit a particular skill: the ability to live in the moment.

Obviously this isn’t a crazy conclusion, since the obsession with growth is dependent on an interest in the future, and how one’s actions in the present affect it. It can come in all forms, from actively doing homework or writing applications, to getting enough sleep so you’re not struggling the next day. The problem is that it all seems to make sense! You don’t want to feel exhausted in the morning, so one would imagine that doing beneficial things in any way is worth it.

The cliché fear-of-missing-out isn’t the root of this, however, that much is clear, because at least for me, it’s by no means a clear choice between fun and responsibility. It’s the small chance that what you’re passing up could lead to something fun and memorable that’s often the issue. For example, do you stay in and read, clean up, and do a little research on internships, or do you go to those parties that, a majority of the time, you don’t really get anything out of? It’s a question that’s easy to answer: one option requires substantially less energy, and has less potential for awkward encounters, to accomplish than the other.

What’s funny is that the future is unknowable. Duh. But still, should one fret over something that, just by its very existence, is impossible to have any amount of confidence in its contents? Then again, from experience, you can predict, and statistically understand, what might come to pass, and how you could change that to benefit you in the way you desire. It’s the “responsibilities,” and related things that you can make happen, or at least try your best to do so. You cannot force fun. That’s what makes fun such a unique part of human nature. It’s something that just happens. It’s natural. You can’t construct it like you can construct an application or a time management scheme. Those things are not fun.

Ultimately, one needs a balance of both living-in-the-moment enjoyment and future-thinking responsibility. “Compromise is key” rears its head again. The achievement of that compromise, however, is the challenge. Some people, myself among them, find it almost impossible to turn off the part of the brain that constantly thinks about things outside the present moment. It’s a blessing and a curse, I suppose (read “I hope”), since while always being distracted and slightly stressed, it does breed thoughtfulness and preparedness. Which is powerful.