“You are a rusty trap that cannot hold me.”
To paraphrase from The Dark Knight Returns. The (mis)quote is from a scene in which Batman re-emerges from Bruce Wayne’s mind after being suppressed for 10 years. One of the interpretations is that Batman is Bruce’s passion which he suppressed, and it eventually breaks free. I’ll get back to this scene at the end of the post to show how nicely it represents suppressed passion’s struggle to break free.
This post is a light-hearted autopsy on passion in an age where paying bills is one of the leading motivators for doing any work.
Do you have a passion? If so, how would you rate your commitment to your passion? Your commitment may fall between the following two extremes:
– It’s a hobby you do when you have free time and you feel like it.
– You sacrifice time every day, whether you feel like it or not.
In the first extreme you may classify “free time” as the time remaining after you spend (waste) time on things like watching a TV series, taking an afternoon nap or spending hours on social media. (Assuming your passion isn’t one of those things!) In the second extreme you may sacrifice more than just time. You may end up losing friends and alienating loved ones. At the end of the day, you and you alone decide your level of commitment to your passion.
It’s your passion, your dream. Usually a passion is linked to one of your dreams, and if your dedication’s not enough then you may never achieve your dream. Your dreams are your responsibility. No one else will make them happen.
What will you get when you pursue your passion? Enjoyment, happiness and inner peace. But it’s not guaranteed. Fulfilled passion’s not the only thing that affects inner peace, but it will move it up by a few notches. Before you decide, it may be worth mentioning the word “passion” is derived from the Latin word “pati” which means “suffer”. So you probably will suffer. But most of it will be in the form of sacrifices.
Many adults have to pay dem bills. This often leads to people choosing stable jobs over jobs they love. Their passion gets relegated to after hours and weekends. It gets even more difficult when they have a significant other and/or kids, or their job demands tons of overtime, or they have community commitments.
The universe likes to place obstacles in your path to test how determined you are to succeed. I’m not implying your significant other and kids are obstacles! There are external and internal obstacles. External obstacles include bills, overtime, power failures, flat tires, slow internet, bad traffic, other people’s prejudices, etc. The list can be quite extensive. Internal obstacles are often the most significant of the two. And when you overcome the internal ones, the external ones become less potent.
“There’s a fly in my soup. It’s OK, I’ll make more soup. Oh, there’s no more soup in the cupboard. I’ll go buy more. Forgot, I don’t have any cash left. I’ll make a peanut butter sandwich.”
In the example above the protagonist overcame the internal obstacles of negativity, laziness and despair. Here are questions to help illustrate possible obstacles within you. Do you spend too much time watching TV or playing video games? Do you live an unnecessarily expensive lifestyle? Do you party too much? Are you lazy? Do you have a crippling amount of self-doubt? Are you afraid to take risks? Do you love your comfort zone? Do you let your emotions dictate when to work on your passion? Do you feel uncreative or unmotivated?
Self-motivation can be seen as a conversation you have with yourself. One part wants to work and the other doesn’t. Both sides present their argument, and the strongest argument wins. So when you’re feeling unmotivated, find a better argument to convince yourself. Strangely enough, you often just need a motivation to start working. Because once you start, the enjoyment of the work becomes perpetually motivating. After a while self-motivation can become subconscious and you’ll find yourself just doing stuff without having to convince yourself to do it.
When your passion has a positive affect in the world then you may have found your purpose in life. You don’t need to have a purpose, but it can soften the blow of reality.
What happens if you don’t follow your passion? You may never find inner peace. Once in a while your passion will nag at you, clambering to be let loose. When it happens you may feel unhappy. It may be an overwhelming unhappiness, or a gentle feeling if you have other things more important in your life that make you happy. Passion can also be an integral part of your identity. In which case denying it is denying who you are.
Getting back to The Dark Knight Returns. Imagine it’s your passion speaking to you in the following scene.
It’s up to you to decide if you’re going to pursue your passion and to what degree you’ll commit to it. Determine what it’s worth and how much you’re willing to sacrifice for it. Following your passion will lead to enjoyment, happiness and inner peace. It may even pay your bills. Eventually 🙂
The post is not all my own ideas. I harvested ideas over the last few months while the topic bounced around in my head. One of the influences is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. The book contains wisdom, specifically about taking responsibility for your life and choices. And you can make choices completely independent of external influences. It’s a core concept of freedom.
The header and comic images are from The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Lynn Varley, John Costanza, et al.