Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Measure of Our Passion

This week, as almost all my weeks this year, has been full of daily surprises and joys. That is because I am getting back in touch and following childhood passions, and most importantly letting God lead the way. Wednesday, I reflected a lot on passion. It was the day I was one of hundreds of extras in the Matt Damon film "Contagion".

It was a painful day. I can think of little worse than waiting around all day in a state of constant ambiguity. The surroundings consisted of a large tent where we were housed in and picnic tables and benches for us to eat and sit. Outside the sun, rain and wind seemed to rhythmically dance all day. Our redemption was plenty of chips, cookies, bagels, fruit, and coffee and drinks.

Yet, hundreds of people were choosing to endure all of this. While waiting, some talked to the crew, some talked to others they were sitting next to, and some even laid their heads on the picnic tables to sleep. Why? We were getting paid but it wasn't much. Was it a fascination with perhaps getting discovered? Was it the thrill of being in a major movie no matter how small the part? Was it a chance at getting to see someone famous? Was it the thrill of a new experience and the adrenalin of the unknown? Perhaps, all of these and more were the reasons for the hundreds that were there.

The sacrifices I made seem to pale given some of the stories I heard. One gal was missing her sister's 30th birthday, and seem to war a bit with it. I heard of another woman who came all the way from Sonoma, had rented a motel room told all her friends she was going to be in the film and was terribly excited. All this for what? They and a lot us were never filmed. The weather, the unpredictability and the organic nature of shooting a film makes this the case sometimes.

Amazingly, up until the point we were told filming was done for the day, most everyone was patient, civil and I dare say happy to be there. I began to think and talk about our incredible patience. Are we near as patient on the road, waiting in line at the store, waiting in most any occasion? I don't think so. So our passion allows us to endure, sacrifice and, yes, even suffer for that we which we desire.

This is a good starting point to the query of what is passion? Some common examples are romantic passion, creative passion and Christ's passion. Their difference seems obvious, but is there a thread that's the same?

To begin to answer this perhaps we should start by researching the origin of the word passion. According to wikepedia, the etymological origins of the word lie in the Greek verb paschō, to suffer. The Latin word passio[2] is used with reference to Christ's mortal suffering in the Vulgate. Here, the Greek and Latin roots refer to suffering and Christ's suffering respectively.

Now lets look at Merriam-Webster's modern definition of passion; (Often capitalized) a : the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death; b : an oratorio based on a gospel narrative of the Passion; 2 obsolete : suffering; 3 : the state or capacity of being acted on by external agents or forces; 4 a (1) : emotion (2) plural : the emotions as distinguished from reason b : intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction c : an outbreak of anger; 5 a : ardent affection : love b : a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept c : sexual desire d : an object of desire or deep interest.

Number 2 is interesting. This original definition of passion meaning suffering is now obsolete. But is it? Number 3 happened as we waited on possibly being filmed as an extra in the movie. We were acted upon by external agents or forces. 4 and 5 are common uses of the word passion. Emotions that are distinguished from reason. It follows that this emotion/ feeling/conviction is intense, driving and overmastering. It would have to be in order for it to overpower your reason. By virtue of this definition our passions can cause suffering because they subvert reason and impel us to surrender and endure the consequences. I have to laugh given the story I started out with.

Passion by its very nature makes us endure things we normally would not want to. Christ endured because of his Love for God and us. He chose and surrendered to His father's will. When we love or feel passionately about someone or something, we endure. We are long suffering, patient, driven and surrender to the higher call. It seems obvious what we choose to surrender to is of great implication not only to ourselves but others. It is also seems obvious we suffer with whatever passion our heart leads us to choose.

The good news is passion allows us to happily endure because the end is so desired. Our passion creates meaning in our lives and make us feel alive. Passion keeps us coming back despite obstacles. Whether we are being rejected by a date or friend, repeatedly failing to make a project come to fruition, or are faced with the repeated choice of having to die to some form of self for a higher call, the question remains the same. Do we keep pursuing the object of our affection or do we turn elsewhere? In answering our question, turn to God who created our passions. It is not that we desire too much but, often, that we desire too little. In surrendering, let Him increase the measure of our passion.


Tanya said...
February 23, 2011 at 6:46 AM  

This is a very thoughtful (and thought-provoking) examination of the dynamics behind "Passion." Sometimes we also want to add some spice to our lives. It feels fulfilling to have new, unique experiences to share with friends and family.

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