Wake Up to the Passion
Passion has been on my mind since last week when I caught sight of this splendid passionflower. Its vivid colors woke me up to the idea of pursuing passion in life. I have not been able to ignore the concept because the R.E.M song, “Talk About the Passion” has since been playing in my brain. We don’t talk about passion much in America. Places exist where that kind of passion is put on display—sometimes public display— but conversation isn’t much in the mix. That kind of passion aside, as a culture we are too often silent when it comes to focusing on passion’s elements of exhilaration, excitement, and enthusiasm. A sign of adulthood in our society often means that passionate feelings toward endeavors are placed on a back burner; we become responsible, even grown-up, and follow whatever career path we have chosen, lackluster—and lacking passion—though it may be.
Passionate endeavors might be glimpsed in fleeting moments of clarity and longing, or brought to us in mini-media bites, but most often, we turn again to the reality of mortgage payments, groceries, and the tasks that beckon us to maintain our standard of living, such as that may be.
Maintaining a life standard is a good thing. Rather than occupy any park or street in America, I occupy my desk most days, and am part of the wheel that keeps this great country rolling along.
Roll along I do, but sometimes the roll is deadly dull, like that 100-mile stretch of I-95 in South Carolina where the highway is copy-paper flat, pine trees line one side of the road, and pine trees line the other side of the road. Expanses such as those put my psyche to sleep. Expanses of hours of rolling along and being part of our country’s wheel also put my psyche to sleep.
The R.E.M. song “Talk About the Passion” isn’t about passion. It’s about hunger, bodily hunger. The passion that currently tugs at my spirit is a different kind of hunger. It’s the hunger within each of us, the hunger that goes beyond food and comprises another sort of sustenance—the sustenance of the soul.
It’s no accident that after a string of days in which my roll was deadly dull I got my first sight of a bright orange-red passionflower. Not the beautiful muted blues, lavenders, and pinks of other varieties, this flower’s fiery tones beckoned me toward it and woke up my psyche from its dry and dreary doze. Few could resist waking after viewing the passionflower’s glorious hues.
This passionflower speaks to me in a language I sometimes forget to practice, one with which I too seldom communicate, but one that keeps nudging me, asleep though I often am. The prose it speaks reminds me that passion for life, for art, for creativity, for communication, is alive; it has its own language, but one that is too seldom spoken in our culture of acquiring, achievement, striving, stress. This passionflower reminds me that it’s time to not only talk about the passion, but also to practice it.