Saturday, March 10, 2007

Passion, Age & Identity

"Is not life a hundred times too short for us to bore ourselves?"
— Friedrich Nietzsche

Passion is the mirror of identity and identity the mirror of passion.

Many people define themselves by what they do or how they relate to others - a mom, an attorney, a racer, a biker, a web designer, an executive, a husband, or an artist. And I would guess, that even those that might deny it most likely do so. This "self-identity" often contains more than one definition. Someone might see themselves as a racer and a dad, or an attorney and a biker or even an artist, a mom, and a biker. Actually, having many passions is healthy. (Too many might be a problem - gee never been there....) Intellectual pursuits, the pursuits of family, and physical pursuits, all in sync, are the mark of a balanced life and most likely a balanced person. Often these self-identities happen to also be our passions. Joesph Campbell in "The Power of Myth" called this following your bliss.

People are fulfilled and happiest when their passion is also what they do - be it a job or some athletic pursuit, hobby, or other things they spend their time on. Certainly, the pursuit of our passions fills us with deep satisfaction.

Sometimes age overcomes our passions - we change. Lost passion isn't necessarily a bad thing - sometimes we just move on. The difficultly comes in the letting go and not loosing our identities. I once defined myself as a climber - it was truly a passion. I still love it, but now it doesn't dominate my life. I've simply have other passions now, but I still am that climber and all that I learned is still with me. (see Recreating Ones' Self) Some people get lost when passion fades, and it does so naturally, just as it should. When this happens they suddenly don't know what they are, where they're going, and what to do. There is most likely some of this in a mid-life crisis. I would go so far as to say each new decade brings new passions - I guess the trick is learning to move on to new things while still keeping our personal perspective in place. That sense of who we are and where we're going is very central to everyday life.

It is also important that our passions define us in a healthy way. For example, some might define themselves by their beauty and as they grow old the vain attempt not to loose that identity presents the world with a sad picture indeed. I think it goes without saying that our passions need to be healthy. I'm really not discussing unhealthy pursuits - that's another topic altogether.

"One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested."
— E. M. Forster

"With out passion you don't have energy, with out energy you have nothing."
— Donald Trump

Painting by Tammi Brazee, Seeing Red 2006 (kind-of reminded me of many passions)

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