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Soulful Sundays: Passion

"Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart."

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Passion is a word that we hear bandied about frequently these days. More and more people are being encouraged to "follow their passion," concerning careers. We gravitate towards passionate people and passion-full causes. Who doesn't want a passionate romantic relationship? We are a culture motivated by pursuits of passion. Etcetera. Etcetera. But how many of us know what passion actually means?

The Latin root for passion is passio, which means "suffering." This is also where we get the word compassion (to suffer together) and Passion (referring to the crucifixion of Christ). Most people equate passion only with an intense emotion of joy or desire, and they skip over the intense pain that is inherent in the very word itself. To have passion for something (or someone) is also to suffer greatly when it is out of reach.

Every artist, every lover, and every parent will tell you that the height of the love (for a creation, a partner, or a child) is only matched by the depth of the pain endured to produce it. There can be no highs without lows, just like there can be no passion without suffering. Assuming that this inevitability is correct, we have just three options:

1) We can get lost in the suffering and let it keep us down and define us;

2) We can try to put a stop to the winds of emotion fueling the passion so that we always sail on a flat sea (which is a contradiction in terms);

3) We can embrace hardship as the only real path to freedom and growth.

I firmly believe that we should all be seeking passion in our lives. These pursuits are the fiery core of existence that propels each and every one of us forward. Without them, we are dead. But we can't keep the fire alive without fuel. Suffering, pain, stress, hardship--whatever you wish to call it--is that fuel.

When we encounter hard times in our lives we can know that something great is happening. We are being shown the way towards passion. It may not feel great in the moment, but when we persevere we grow stronger. Intense heat and pressure produces diamonds in the long run. Choose your suffering wisely, though. Not all of it is necessary. You'll know the difference by how much you grow (or don't).

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