I recently had an email exchange with a colleague, who was sharing his frustrations about “following one’s passion.” It seems he’s looking critically inward at the alignment between his drives and motivations, and checking that against the reality of his actions.

Is change being made, or just spoken about?

He acknowledges the comfort of his siutation, which enables him to not have to act, but seems to be coming to a place where he chooses to act anyway. It may be more scary than philosophizing from the sidelines, but it means a direct experience of life.

I’ve been going through a similar thought/emotional process myself, and could relate to what I interpret as feelings of hypocrisy. The raising of self-awareness has been forcing me to ask myself continuously if I’m practicing what I preach, and realizing that if/when the answer is no, I’m best to just keep my mouth shut.

I was touched by this friend’s courage to face his own truth, and what appears to be a coming to terms with choosing what to *do* and not just what to say.

Below is his reflection, posted with permission.


I came to think that following one’s passion can be very dangerous.Speaking for myself i can track the origin of “my passion” back to a mix of being better at something than my little brother, impressing my dad, out-reason my mum, an excuse to myself to avoid doing school-homework and a nerd-award in my social circle. And it still is that – a collage of shiny rhetorical objects that i got good at pulling out to impress people, preferably pretty women. Nothing of it has ever yielded any substance other than inspiration.

And why is that i am still breathing?

Because the infrastructure i grew up in is so rich that my life-style is carried by the system. I could go on and keep waving with quotes, insights, links and really feel like producing something, contributing something. But it remains a shallow emotional activity subsidized by cheap energy.

Now the only way i could get real is to actually try stuff out. Get people to try these things that i envision and see if it results in anything interesting. But then i noticed that i kept telling the story of “i should really try it out”, but what i was actually doing was avoiding for that to happen. I am afraid the reality of it would prove me wrong – and rather than dumping years of thinking and visioning i can live a while longer with a state of “yes, i will try it out eventually, i am sure it works, let me keep thinking about it for now” to avoid the danger of being plain wrong.

I surely developed rhetorical mastery in going around that and keep the conversation going until everyone feels the reality of it just because of the shared reality of the conversation… not noticing that there has never been any substance other then the substance of the conversation itself. Charging of meaning-containers is a great way of creating shared reality, we talk so much about something until we actually think it’s true. And i CAN do that because of an intensely rich system where i can rely on cheap energy to transport my physicality around, give me warm water, food in the supermarket and all that – while i keep celebrating the adult version of my childhood-passion – my survival doesn’t depend on the goodness of my thoughts.

Well, that all to say that being passionated is a wonderful energetic state, certainly emotionally desirable – but it can be dangerous if it is an energy-subsidized childhood-extension because the system is rich enough to keep me alive in whatever random direction my emotionality takes me. And yes, maybe there are amazing things to harness at the end of some passion-tunnels, but what are the costs of running all these rich experiments on a planetary scale?

Should i rely on the approval of my ideas in a group? Is resonance in a social field enough to validate the truth or meaning of my idea?

Well, it certainly gives me motivation. But for every single possible idea that i could ever think of i WILL find people who resonate and are willing to from community around it – the number of all possible subgroups within the human population is very very high. Shared values, goals, beliefs or just shared experience… many ways to look at what glue’s together a group of people.

So IS the resonance of any group a good enough validation? Or am i really just seeking for mates and social warmth – fair enough, i guess i do to some degree. What do i really have to validate anything??

I know that i have shadows in me. I assume others have those as well, so my interest in thinking about governance- or decision-making models is to wipe out all possible selfish badness in other people… just because i can’t do it in myself? I can try heal outside what’s broken inside, but what if many do that at the same time…

So that’s where i am at; finding a way to validate ideas outside of passion, outside of the dependency on social resonance in groups and outside of rhetoric. That’s why i feel called to go into science. And yes, actually also into a simpler lifestyle – i would love to learn gardening and planning on taking a complete offline-time for a few months. Maybe that’s next after graduation…

And yes, there are things to do… and i really don’t know better.

image via pinterest