Passion is a recipe for disaster and disappointment. In fact, the advice of ‘flat-earthers’ and other religious conservatives on the sense of excitement is probably right: if you experience a moment of passion, go and take a very cold shower.
Modern job descriptions, and the recruitment process, always seem to feature the word ‘passion’. Nowadays, if you want to become a filing clerk, you had better be able to demonstrate a very convincing enthusiasm for files, staples, paper punches and all the other paraphernalia of order.
If your pupils dilate at the mention of the word ‘ring binder’, the job is probably yours. And if card indexing really is your idea of lifelong bliss, then no doubt your employers will create a special type of heaven for you, though others might consider it a hell.
We are trained to passion. From a young age, we are expected to seek it out and adopt it. And from about the time when we grow our first few body hairs, we are supposed to know with a large degree of certainty what we will do for the rest of our lives.
If this were possible, the world would indeed be a wonderful place. Unfortunately it is not true. In love, in the conduct of our lives, and in the great endeavours that we adopt as our causes, passion is a Judas, the comfortable, ‘supportive’ friend who clasps us to his bosom with a wicked, heart-bound knife concealed up his sleeve.
The paradox and the source of betrayal that can be found in the concept of ‘passion’ lie in the fact that periods of euphoric occupation that characterize passion last minutes, hours, days or weeks. After a while the heady sense of fulfillment becomes a humdrum reality and shortly after, unless you have the concentration of an autistic person, familiarity and boredom set in.
The excitement that you may feel at the prospect of the freedom of flying may well diminish as you realize that thousands of flight hours have equipped you to become the airborne equivalent of a bus-driver.
The love that you once felt for someone, and all those pheromones, might well give way to a dreadful sense of inevitability as you discover that you are locked into a relationship that has no future.
The need to ‘liberate the people’ may well turn into everyone’s nightmare as you realize that those whom you lead, do not want to be led or do not intend to obey you, and you turn from your love of the people to reliance on whips, imprisonment and guns.
Passion is a fickle creature. It’s embrace is fleeting. Against the moment, expectations are set and whole lives are measured. Passion is a recipe for disaster and disappointment. In fact, the advice of ‘flat-earthers’ and other religious conservatives on the sense of excitement is probably right: if you experience a moment of passion, go and take a very cold shower.
It is easy to find an opposite to ‘passion’ in the idea of ‘ennui’, the listlessness that comes from an absence of interest or excitement. This however has all the appeal of a Sunday afternoon tea with an elderly group of goldfish fanciers. Everyone needs something to keep them interested in life, albeit probably not bacterial growth that affects the scales of fish.
A more apt counter to the ‘fool’s rush’ that passion produces, is probably ‘dispassion’.
Dispassion is the emotionless approach that says, “Although she may seem beautiful, sexy and wild now, she will probably turn into your worst nightmare after a couple of years together.”
It might lead to the conclusion that the career choice of an adolescent is not going to be interesting forever and forever and forever.
It might also lead to the startling conclusion, that although the people want liberty, they don’t want leadership or responsibility, and further to the conclusion that medical specialists enjoy the same gratification of helping people, but earn far more and drive funkier cars.
Moments of passion should not be discouraged: they are the spice of life. We need them to perpetuate breeding, pull out of career slumps and generally find our way out of the ruts that we so often find ourselves in. But a moment of hot, sparkling passion should always be followed by a cold shower, a cup of tea and a good long think. It’s safer for everyone concerned.