I have been passionate about many things in my life.
From yoga and books to travel and people, my passions have varied immensely. Yet when someone asks me what I am passionate about, I cannot think of a single thing.
Perhaps it’s because none stand out, or perhaps because the word passion is too much of an umbrella term. I have so many, so which one should I choose?
I could say that I have a passion for yoga, because being on the mat makes me feel a sense of wholeness. When I step onto my mat, the whole world melts away; through yoga, I nurture my body and mind, away from life, but appreciating life at the same time.
We can be passionate about inanimate objects, too. If opening a book makes us feel excited, then we are passionate about it. Feeling a sense of exhilaration as a we turn the pages of a book is passion. A passion for life.
The etymology of the word passion originates in the Latin word pati (to suffer or endure), and evokes the suffering of Christ.
We as humans, have always suffered for what we love.
“You endure what is unbearable, and you bear it. That is all.” ~ Cassandra Clare
Does it make sense that we suffer for what we love? Always. It is, in my opinion, both our biggest strength and our innate hamartia that we, as humans, suffer for that which we feel passionate about.
A writer may forego sleep so that they can write; a dancer may go without their favourite foods so that they can perform; a parent will work to the bone to provide for their child.
We all suffer, because what we love requires us to give.
As the word passion evolved, it gained its erotic connotations; by the late 16th century, passion took the meaning of desire, lust and sexual love. When we make love to someone we care about, there is passion beyond words. We are blissful, and we focus on our senses—the touch, the taste, the scent of our lover. Nothing else matters.
This is a beautiful, fierce passion, but it is also a private one. When somebody asks me what I am passionate about, I might not feel compelled to reply with details of my intimate relationship. I am more likely to mention something I feel strongly about.
Following the etymology of the word for another 50 years or so, around about the 1630s, passion developed its association with a strong feeling or enthusiasm for things. I say “things” generically, because we can be passionate about literally anything, both animate and inanimate. The scope is endless. Cooking, reading, nature, learning, dancing, helping people—the list can go on and on. And regardless of how proficient (or not) we are at our passions, the fact that they spark an energy in us means that we will continuously go back to them.
“Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.” ~ Martha Graham
Sometimes one passion leads to another (or several others). For example, I have a friend who is passionate about cooking, and that expanded into a love of growing her own foods. She also developed an interest in finding out where the food we buy comes from. Her curiosity created a set of similar passions that now encompass her life.
Many of us have many passions that have nothing to do with each other—ranging from things we suffer for to things that light us up—and not all of them can be explained. We cannot explain how seeing a beautiful sunset makes our heart expand in the face of nature’s wonder, or how we are suffering with passion as we miss the friends we have lost.
Sometimes, we cannot put the passions we feel into words, and I have learned that this is not a bad thing.
“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” ~ Émile Zola
The next time somebody asks me what I am passionate about, I will tell them that I cannot box up my passions under a single label; they are numerous, personal, intimate and unique.
I will tell them that I am passionate about life.
Author: Rohana Dewfall
Apprentice Editor: Hermina Popa; Editor: Toby Israel