So I have a very odd question to ask: Have you ever truly been frightened by some characteristic or trait that you have? I’m not talking about something you’d like to change, like your temper, your inability to handle money very well, your tendency to procrastinate, your obsession with all things Kardashian or your unequivocal adoration of Justin Bieber. I’m actually talking about a quality that you’d like to learn how to embrace, but you don’t know how to go about doing it.
Mine is passion.
Now don’t go thinking I’m some kind of wannabe Marilyn Monroe with a string of lovers as long as your arm. Truth be told, I’m a little old-fashioned but that’s a subject for another time.
I’m talking about intensity, excitement, even (dare I say it?) enthusiasm.
If you could characterize my life in one word, at least up until now, it would probably be “cautious.” Given a choice between adventure and safety, I have always, ALWAYS chosen safety. I sought a business-related degree because I had no idea how I would make a living if I majored in literature, where my heart beat fastest and hardest. I have stayed in dead-end jobs and jobs that were not in the least bit fulfilling, simply because the idea of starting over again was too risky. Better the devil you know. . . .
I don’t want to be reckless and foolhardy. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But as Peter Drucker once said: “There is the risk you cannot afford to take and there is the risk you cannot afford not to take.” I couldn’t let myself take either risk and so I have stayed – stuck.
Passion is too wild, too unpredictable, too dangerous. It’s breathtaking. It dares to soar where prudence might suggest it would be better to walk. It laughs out loud, full-bodied and generous, but polite company prefers a discreet giggle. Passion paints in bold colours, joyous, exuberant and I have ever been more comfortable with a far more subdued palette and carefully controlled brushstrokes.
I was taught to fear passion, or probably more to the point, I was encouraged to blunt it. Take the wildness out of it, tame it, pretty it up so that it is acceptable and put it on display, but only in the right circumstances. Break it so it responds on command. Drug it so I can’t hear it calling my name. Shackle it so it won’t lead me into the unknown, into that scary place where anything can happen, where I can run into anything or anyone. Maybe even myself.
Perhaps especially myself.
I have been taught and encouraged to control, to predict, to plan. Passion won’t let me. Passion invites me to play, to be bold, to be daring. It challenges me to wear a bright red dress and 4-inch heels to church. Passion whispers “Let’s go!”
Can I be honest? That’s where the problem lies: Passion leads me into the wild places of my heart, the places I’ve never before recognized as “home.” Passion is just too damned ALIVE and I don’t know how to live there.
Now let’s see . . . where did I leave those heels?