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A strong and barely controllable emotion

noun: passion; plural noun: passions; noun: Passion; noun: the Passion

  1. strong and barely controllable emotion.
    “a man of impetuous passion”

When you look up passion on Google, the above is the first definition that comes up. Most people would tell you to find and follow your passion. Some people even make it their goals to discover and pursue it, despite how unfeasible it may seem. When it’s a “strong and barely controllable emotion”, it makes sense as to why they commit so hard. An emotion so strong that you can barely control essentially takes over your entire being, consuming you, if you know what it’s like to be a passionate person or even be driven by passion.

Sometimes we fall in and out of our passions. We grow up playing certain sports or particular instruments that turn us into experts at what we do; however, along the way, the passion may become distorted and transform into an aversion. Often times, that passion may never have been ours.

As a child, I was pretty versed at playing the piano. I put in anywhere between 3-6 hours of sheer practice every day – every day. I performed at art galleries, nursing homes, school events, my parents’ work events, and pretty much anywhere there was a piano in sight; most of the time, it wasn’t by choice either. My parents knew I had talent, especially with the number of strangers approaching them, complimenting my skill and passion for the instrument.

You have a lot of feeling when you play. Whatever you do, don’t stop playing. You have a real talent.

These strangers coming up to me with such generous, kind words boosted my young, innocent ego. At that age, talent = passion, or so I thought. I continued playing for years, competing in local competitions, and dreaming of attending Juilliard some day. High school came along and my “passion” dwindled hard and fast. The pressure to constantly be better, practice more, and play each piece perfectly was quickly leaving a sour taste in my mouth. The random compliments became twisted lies in my mind because I never thought I was ever good enough. “Constructive criticism” only reaffirmed this belief. After taking a few years off, I realized it was no longer my passion; being talented at something doesn’t directly translate into being one’s own passion.

In college, I discovered the true definition of what it meant to have a passion. In the midst of my emotional/mental breakdown, climbing quickly became an addiction – my vice. It was literally a “strong and barely controllable emotion”. Several years later, I am still incredibly passionate about the sport and consider it to be one of my great “life teachers” with the array of emotions it presents me with.

The problem with passions are: what happens when life strips us from the ability to pursue it?

A close friend of mine has an even deeper relationship with climbing, as he’s been in the game almost as long as I’ve been alive. His drive, commitment, strength, and determination are not only inspirational, but highly contagious. Once you know him, you realize how much more than just an activity it is for him; it’s what keeps him going. Through his physical limitations, like torn tendons and such, you’ll find him pushing through and fighting that pain with a smile on his face. The problem with an obsession is sometimes we don’t know when to stop. Sometimes we might be running away from something. Sometimes we might be hiding from ourselves when we need ourselves the most. Sometimes, it’s the only thing left.

So tell me, because I haven’t figured it out,

What happens when life strips us from the ability to pursue our passion?