Passion

3 Apr

I haven’t been writing as much lately, and the reason is two fold: Partly it’s because with a 9-5 job I have a lot less time, but the main reason is that I have lost my passion.

The watershed moment for me was when I wrote the post Forlorn Hope. I came to the conclusion that humanity is fucked at a very basic level. Yes, we are slowly inch by inch making progress, but the fact that we have to fight so damn hard to get that inch should tell you something about people. I wouldn’t say it is 100% pointless to argue religion and politics with people, but I just don’t have the desire to do it very much anymore.

In a way I feel like I have ascended to a post-political, post-atheism state. I was once starry eyed and zealous about both, and now I don’t care. It’s a faint feeling of superiority for which I am displeased with myself.

In my experience, passion is a fickle thing. My passions have always come in stages. My first passion as a kinder-gardener was volcanoes. Then in first grade it was the civil war, then Pompeii. In fifth grade it was guinea pigs. Between the ages of 11-12 it was the Titanic.

The biggest passion hit when I turned 12. The computer game Age of Empires II: Age of Kings came out and I discovered the middle ages. This passion would grip me for the next 10 years. I joined a medieval living history group, built a suit of armor, learned how to sword fight, and went to college to get my BA in history. For the longest time I was planning on living my life as a medieval archaeologist. I woke up early every morning for almost two years to go dig at a local site, I hurt my GPA by taking multiple language classes (not my strong point), and I even traveled to the UK for schooling. Now I’m not so enthusiastic about it.

Around the same early teenage years I discovered a passion for film making and politics. I seriously came extremely close to going to film school instead of a 4 year program for history, but at the last minute I had a huge falling out with my best friend and film-making companion. I thought about being a film editor for the rest of my life, but that passion died out.

Politics was a similar story. I used to volunteer and wage road sign wars before I could even vote. I’m not proud of it, but at the time I described myself as a political zealot. (I was a teenager, cut me some slack) I wanted a life of politics, fighting the good fight and all that. I almost majored in political science at college. My first semester I signed up for the freshmen starter classes, but then changed my mind at the last minute. I reasoned that I didn’t need a degree in political science to work in politics, and that history had been my driving passion for much longer.

The most difficult aspect about all of this is the lack of certainty.

Each one of these passions consumed me, sometimes for years at a stretch. While in the grip of a passion I was positive about my life’s calling. I knew what it was I wanted to do. Inevitably the passion died out, leaving me jaded and lost. How am I supposed to plan for life if I don’t that what I am passionate about today will be what I am passionate about tomorrow? I know some people might be tempted to say “Oh don’t plan!” but that’s not reasonable. You can’t “not plan” and become a medieval archaeologist. (My goal for more than a decade of my life) I had to plan what courses I took in college, what I did outside of college, how to build my resume for grad school, which grad school to go to, etc. Planning is a must. But how was I supposed to know my passion would die my senior year? (My biggest fear is that my passion and decade long plans were the collateral damage in the slow implosion of a serious three year relationship whose end coincided with that senior year, but I have no way of knowing)

Regardless, now I’m left in the uncomfortable position of floating aimlessly; passionless. What am I to do? A lack of passion is not something you can just “snap out of.” If I find a new passion, how can I avoid being cynical about it given my history with previous passions?

11 Responses to “Passion”

  1. teo April 3, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    You know, I’m in a similar place now… And although it feels really shitty, I know that I’ll get out of it sometime. I’ve always did before.
    “What am I to do? A lack of passion is not something you can just “snap out of.” – it ain’t. But something always happens and one of these somethings will get you out of it. Sooner or later, but it will 🙂

    “If I find a new passion, how can I avoid being cynical about it given my history with previous passions? ” Idk. I always am. At least afterwards. While you’re fully in your passion, there’s no place for cynicism. Afterwards it may be simply a good sense 😉

  2. godlesspaladin April 3, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Hey Teo, thanks, glad I’m not the only one with this issue. I’m thinking that I might find something when I leave the country and force myself to start a new life. It will be an adventure and perhaps I will find a new passion then.

  3. teo April 3, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    don’t try to rush it – passion needs inspiration and like every inspiration it should come to you. I’ve thought that I’ll get out of my passionlessness when I change the town, but now I’m even more down than before…
    Hope your new life is working good for you although 🙂

  4. Julie April 4, 2011 at 9:30 am #

    Sometimes (at least in my case) it’s the directional focus within the passion that changes. In my husband’s case, it’s OCD. He’s alternately obsessed to compulsion with politics, environmental issues, home improvement, buying stuff we don’t need and a host of other things.

    I’m a musician, and for a couple of years now, I’ve been fighting the urge to beat something up (from frustration of going nowhere after years of blood, sweat and tears and tens of thousands of dollars in degrees and experience). My frustration comes from the feeling of not being able to do what I want, what I’m passionate about, because of circumstances I can’t control.

    I did everything “right” (well, except go to college when I was “supposed to”). I did everything “right” in evaluating the last couple of years of my life — pro/con list, bouncing ideas off others, stewing and thinking, etc. I was getting ready to ask some other musicians who I highly respect what I should do, and came to the conclusion that, you know what? It doesn’t matter what they think. It matters what I think! And I should be happy doing what I think is right. So I switched instruments and am happier than I’ve been in two years. And it’s actually resulting in career movement in the right direction!

    So, while my story may be a little different, it’s still about the gain, loss and/or retention of passion. I enjoy reading your “rants” because they give me a lot to think about.

  5. godlesspaladin April 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Hey Julie, thanks! That’s great that you’re finally getting some traction after all your hard work! Was the decision to switch instruments a hard one? It was a pretty hard decision for me to switch paths away from archaeology after I sunk so much time and effort into it. I started to gravitate towards art, but even that passion is somewhat dwindling… I’m not sure I’ll ever be one of those people who has a single driving calling for their entire lives. I kind of wish I did because then things would be much simpler.

  6. Greg Christopher April 5, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    Write RPGs!

  7. godlesspaladin April 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    Haha, thanks Greg, though I’m not sure I have the skill to do that. I think I’d have to plan in more of them. I’ve been trying to play through some computer ones in my free time (dragon age 2) but every time I start it up I hear a little voice in the back of my head pretending to be you, telling me that I’m being a good mouse by doing all this disguised work… :p

  8. Julie April 6, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    GP, the decision to switch instruments wasn’t difficult, but I’ve been torturing myself with it for ten-plus years now. Like leaving crumbles of cheese for the mouse, when he’s starving. I went from violin to viola, so it wasn’t like going from strings to brass. I’m still working on some minor technique issues (due to the larger size and more muscle needed to make the sound) but I actually look forward to going to rehearsals now and feel like my contribution to the ensembles I play in is actually valued, whereas before I was basically invisible.

    When I was much younger and doing college the first time around, I started in marketing, then hopped over to political science (pre-law) and took my sweet time (10 years) to jump into music (where I should have gone the first time). I also adore history, but it never occurred to me to go that route academically until I was finished with my performance degrees (started musicology doctorate, but dropped out because relationships often win out over pieces of paper.)

    I could go on and on, but in a nutshell I think that sometimes we need to float loose and not have a passion. Or we need to feel undone or squirrely about our passions in general. The best soul searching and question answering comes from the depths of that despair/boredom/unsettledness.

  9. Jason Adams April 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    Godless Paladin: shrugging at windmills and saying “Meh.”

    I kid.

  10. Aita May 26, 2011 at 5:04 am #

    I suppose I’m lucky to have a pair of all-encompassing passions that I’ve had so long as I’ve been alive: Sex and gaming. I’m good at both, between them I support myself (I’m a house-boy to a loving girlfriend of 6 years, as well as a beta-tester and free-lance 3D animator, for bill-assistance)

    But having read a lot of your writings in the past few hours, I do hope you find your taste of things. Your intellect and understanding would be well-applied in just about anything I think you point it at. Good luck in finding your star, and don’t forget to try and enjoy those times when you don’t have anything pulling you~

  11. Mark LaPorta August 18, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    Post-political. I like that.
    Post-atheistic, too, as I had created a false God and I’m doing better now.
    Just me, and Him guiding me as I ask Him to. Having noted that geographic changes are rarely successful at the level we need, I’ve grown to prefer changes in perception and understanding.
    I’d wish the same for anyone.
    Evolve, or revolve..

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