The French novelist Honore de Balzare says, “Passion is universal humanity. Without it religion, history, romance and art would be useless.” To that the age old question, what does it mean to be passionate?
A core ingredient in living passionately is finding a cause or giving your life meaning within your individual existence which in truth, you alone are responsible for your own existence.
The meaning you find for your life should be one you’re willing to work for, commit to, one you have given thought to as you have chosen and might I say, one you would die for, one you’re willing to embrace and to organize your whole life around.
To be truly passionate, such a choice must also embrace a degree of mystery or uncertainty. David Hume, a famous 18th-century philosopher, once said about life that “The whole is a riddle, an enigma, an inexplicable mystery.”
To that, living passionately means choosing to be vulnerable in the face of your own life. It means recognizing the insecurity and unpredictable nature of events that surrounds your life choices, but also recognizing that those choices still need to be made with solid resolution and committed force.
This means embracing the power that is in your hands and no one else.
Freedom is an essential part of being this passionate person that you desire. You’re different from the nonhuman creatures that surround you, so the way in which you approach your own life should be seen as different from the way animals approach theirs.
Seen in this way, nonhuman objects, being entirely natural in composition, don’t make choices; they’re not free. You’re a natural being too. Sometimes your movements are dictated by factors in the physical natural world.
From birth, you don’t pick and choose your race, religion, name, location or type of socialisation or any other general facticity.
In view, one must realise that there are always instances in which you can be self-moving. This intentional action isn’t the result of some set of environmental conditions in the world. When you do act intentionally, which includes deciding how you face up to your impending future-your actions are up to you alone and nothing else.
Your freedom to choose how to act in the present and face the future has limitations placed on it by the world you live in.
The unique nature of your freedom shows that although you do live in the world and are subject to its influences, you also transcend the world, because you’re not determined by it.
To transcend, to be of passion doesn’t mean that you float above the world like a disembodied spirit. It just means that you can rise above the physical cause and effect explanations that seem to govern nonhuman things.
Freedom is an essential part of what you are, it’s a facet of your existence that you must cultivate if you’re to live in an honest, truthful, or authentic way. You must be true to this special aspect of what you are.
This cultivation requires that you take the question of how to face your future and your existence very seriously. Which in turn make up the formation of what it means to be passionate about something.
Because of this shift in reality, a passionate life isn’t just about doing certain specific things. It’s not what you do but, how you do it, how you choose to embrace your existence with your means. The “how” is always more important than the “what”.
It’s up to you to figure out what path, out of all the ones possible for you, to take. After you choose that path, pursue it with hope and engagement, with a fire of lived intensity. As Camus puts it ” Mystery and risk are what give life that weight; they’re the fuel from which the fire of passion burns.”
By making these kinds of choices and commitments, you can make sure your life embodies the kind of risk that passion thrives on.
Cultivating a beautiful relationship with your own existence requires you to choose a direction in life that expresses your individuality.
No two people can share such a direction. Because passion requires that you express your own freedom and subjectivity, you must revolt against allowing your choices and projects to flow from any influences outside your individual nature.
At the most basic level, being passionate means being very aware of the very particular concrete world that you live in. Living passionately means saying ”I can and I will” A passionate life emphasizes how you go about living and not what you end up actually doing.
Understanding a passionate life is to draw the distinction between living as a participator and living as a detached observer.
Living passionately means cultivating a bond with your own life that doesn’t approach it as a problem to be solved, but as a relationship that you need to involve yourself in and remain open to.
As Kierkegaard once said
“that the pagan who prays passionately to a false God shows more truth than the Christian who prays falsely to his real God.”