Thursday, February 24, 2005

"Human passions have mysterious ways, in children as well as grown-ups. Those affected by them can't explain them, and those who haven't known them have no understanding of them at all. Some people risk their lives to conquer a mountain peak. No one, not even they themselves, can really explain why. Others ruin themselves trying to win the heart of a certain person who wants nothing to do with them...Some think their only hope of happiness lies in being somewhere else, and spend their whole lives traveling from place to place...In short, there are as many different passions as there are people." -Michael Ende, The Neverending Story

It's amazing how the writer of a children's book can so succinctly and aptly describe phenomena that make life what it is: painfully simple, really, if it weren't for all the diversity and free will and emotion and battles for or against any and all of those things in personal relationships or society as a whole. I've reread quite a bit of young adult literature lately and am amazed by its complexity - what do you tell a child to prepare them for the life they're about to lead? I remember what it was like to feel passion as a child - before I knew its name - pure and unadulterated by cynicism and bitter disappointment.

Then it had a name:

pas·sion (pshn) n. 1. A powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger. 2. Ardent love. 3. Strong sexual desire; lust. 4. The object of such love or desire. 5. Boundless enthusiasm: His skills as a player don't quite match his passion for the game. 6. The object of such enthusiasm: Soccer is her passion.

Not to be confused with, though sometimes complicated by:

in·stinct (nstngkt) n. 1. An inborn pattern of behavior that is characteristic of a species and is often a response to specific environmental stimuli: the spawning instinct in salmon; altruistic instincts in social animals. 2. A powerful motivation or impulse. 3. An innate capability or aptitude: an instinct for tact and diplomacy.

There are aspects of my life that fall neatly into one of these categories. Instincts: Self-preservation, maternity, survival, language, companionship, etc. Passions: reading, writing, music, Minneapolis, etc. Then the other individuals (generally of the male persuasion) arrive and muck it all up. Suddenly instinct and passion become easily confused, overthought, overwrought – and for one reason or another I find it difficult to keep it all straight. Since I can’t do anything about instinct, and, like so many others, chase passion specifically attached to a person like a dog chasing its tail, I fuck up. Make mistakes. Cause and experience pain. Read: am a human being.

Then there are those moments of simplicity. The young adult literature logic that’s been right in front of me all the time. Real passion – the kind that happens with or without the name - either IS or IS NOT, regardless of how long it lasts. Once you acknowledge to yourself, with complete honesty, the existence or non-existence of passion, it’s a matter of choice. I’ve ignored my instinct before in matters such as these. I strongly advise myself against doing so in the future.


Charles said...

What's interesting is that at its root, "passion" means "suffering." I don't believe you can really experience passion without suffering to some extent. Maybe because passion reminds us that we're not whole, that there are parts of us we have to go out into the world to find....

Maria said...

*GASP* You're BACK!!! Where have you BEEN?!?!

Charles said...

I've been on a deathbed since Wednesday. Still not fully human yet.