Passion is a word with a rich history. Originally it was associated with suffering, as in the Passion of the Christ; a suffering that passes all human understanding. He chose to suffer for humankind.
Today the word is more associated with an undertaking that brings great joy and satisfaction. When we think of someone who is engaged in their passion we think of a person who is enthusiastic and committed to activities that give them great satisfaction.
There are people in our lives who are deeply committed to particular activities, engaging in them on a regular basis and forming a sense of their identity through that career, past-time, mission or purpose.
Passion has become a bit of a buzzword. It has been hijacked by marketers. Now companies are passionate about everything from furniture to flooring. I know that there are people who are passionate about furniture. But I don’t think they work at warehouse big-box companies.
I have a friend who makes one-off pieces, by hand. From selecting the woods, to designing the product, to finishing it, my friend is excited about what he creates.
Passion goes further than a career. It becomes an aspect of the whole person. It becomes more than what you do. It becomes part of who you are.
I have seen thousands of clients in my 20-year career as a case manager. It is amazing how people become engaged with their passion. With passion they are able to achieve their personal goals. They are excited and full of life. Their passion becomes the engine to drive the vehicle of their career.
Passion is not always about a specific career or vocation. It can also be about the way you do things. A person may work in a large Information Technology organization but their real passion is about how they collaborate with others. The IT interests them but what really excites them is watching a new idea grow and blossom through the cooperation of colleagues bringing their specialties to the team.
Passion is also something that can live outside your employment. There are people fighting for social rights and freedoms. There are people dedicated to maintaining the environment or saving creatures or opposing the consumption of meat. These people are driven to make the world a better place. They aren’t necessarily interested in that issue as an occupation. They give it their energy when they are not at work. It is part of their being.
This could be true of almost any pursuit. Whether for justice or recreation, people can find themselves deeply engaged in something they love doing with little need to make a living at it. However, there are some in society who not only get to do what they love but they also get paid handsomely to do it.
Actors are passionate about their work. Most actors make a living in theatres around the world but film stars receive massive payments for doing much the same job.
When we think of film stars, we don’t think of them as doing a job really. But they get paid, very well, to carry out a task. For those who have made it to the silver screen, most have achieved an amazing dream. Many seek difficult roles and struggle to create a character. That is hard work.
The acclaimed British actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Sherlock Holmes on the BBC’s Sherlock, says that he enjoys that challenge.
“The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is.” He told Britain’s Radio Times. “Not being in your comfort zone is great fun.”
Cumberbatch actually seeks discomfort because of his passion. He chooses to suffer for his art.
In most fields, people who are passionate about their work are constantly trying to deepen their knowledge or push their bodies to the limits. They are excited about meeting the next challenge.
Trying to determine that passion can be difficult, especially for young people. It may be about asking, “What is it that I love and am prepared to suffer for?”