The week’s column is written by Adele's brother and Jinny's son David.
"To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable." - Beethoven
Passion – most often thought of as the romantic kind and why not? When you search for synonyms you find words like: thirst, lust, desire, craving, ache. But that’s not the whole story. Passion can be cool, slow and steady, too. There are plenty of folks who have strong feelings about their interests that can only be described as passionate though it might not be obvious to those who don’t know them well. Maybe they don’t feel it’s necessary to share with the world at large. Maybe they’re just the quiet types.
We like to make fun of the stamp collectors and bird watchers of the world as these pursuits are often considered nerdy or lacking in vitality. However, there are many who are quite passionate about these kinds of things. Just because they might not have their car’s rear window plastered with logos and commercial slogans proclaiming their affiliated interests is no reason to doubt their devotion. And honestly, how do they stack up against, say, a passion for chocolate, whisky, watching sports on TV or even pornography? I presume you take my point.
Passion – the important thing here is to have some. When you consider yourself what do you find? In a world that seems increasingly more grubby, unjust, inane, scripted and downright inexplicable do you have anything in your life that is transcendent? A place to cultivate a joyous passion? An island of your own or to share with like-minded others? If not, I offer my condolences.
If you’ve taken stock you have either acknowledged your “passions” or, regrettably, acknowledged your deficit. A word of caution here: It ain’t exactly a go/no-go situation. As we all know, unbridled passion spells trouble. If your enthusiasms trespasses upon or otherwise harm others you might want to consider getting a grip. (Hating Yankee fans isn’t a form of healthy passion no matter what your Aunt Tilley in Roxbury says.)
No, a truly healthy passion brings joy and a feeling of fulfillment. If it also brings joy to others, consider that a wonderful bonus. If there are any elements of ego inflation in it you might have overshot your goal. This is bad ju-ju as exemplified by the peculiar obsession of some people with “brands”; the “hurray for my side, to heck with you non-affiliated losers” mentality that reeks of adolescent hubris. Ford vs. Chevy, Coke vs. Pepsi, State vs. U of, Rock vs. Country, Democrats vs. Republicans, believers vs. non-believers, Marathon runners vs. the world – you name it.
When this competitive passion is good natured and easy going all is well. When it acquires a sharp or irrational edge it can become pathological. Nothing is more illustrative of this than the outpouring of sniveling and whining in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State. (By the way, just the tip of satanic iceberg if you care to do the reading.) Instead of fans, boosters and alumni standing up and admitting their “passion” for Penn State football had severely skewed their better judgment and sense of decency, they went off in a scurrilous defense of the “Great Man” Paterno. (This was a guy who, at least, was as out of touch with reality as his ridiculous, campus statue or, at worst, was so blindly devoted to his enshrined, corporate football program he was willing to completely disregard the abhorrent and cruel criminality carried out right under his nose.) Nonetheless, the Penn State faithful somehow wanted us to believe their disgraced institution was the victim instead of the brutalized children. Their “brand” had been threatened and it was all the fault of Penn State “haters” and a vulturous press. Go figure.
Passion – seems like you can’t live with it and you can’t truly live without it. “Ok,” you say, “you’ve dragged it through the mud. We’ve been forced to look at the downside. Where’s the upside?” It’s only everywhere. It’s in the thousands of little stiches a quilter lovingly applies to her work. It’s in the flawless finish the home workshop builder applies to his furniture. It’s in the determined crayon and paper creation given to grandma by a small child. It’s in a dilapidated garage on an engine stand, glittering with chrome. It’s in the uplifted choir voices of a small church in the middle of nowhere. And lest we forget, and perhaps most importantly, it’s in the hearts and actions of those who quietly sacrifice to help their fellow creatures.
Passion – Got any?