What I tell myself everyday.

To all the people watching, I can never ever thank you enough for the kindness to me, I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask is one thing, and this is.. I'm asking this particularily of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism - for the record it's my least favorite quality, it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen." - Conan 'O'Brien

August 2, 2012

A Personal Opinion on Passion and Commitment

According to Oxford Dictionaries Online, passion is ‘a strong and uncontrollable emotion’. This is the word that many had used to express their enthusiasm and (used generically here) love for something. The subject may range from an individual to an object or activity. It could be anything. However, since this is purely from a personal standpoint, I’ll mostly deal with the activity part, loosely based on the art discipline (again, art here is used in a generic manner). 
  Let’s assume that Oxford Dictionary is completely correct about the definition of the word. ‘A strong and uncontrollable emotion’ seems to have a negative connotation, as of the word obsession, besotted and possessed. In this sense I am referring more to the uncontrollable part. Regardless, strong is a relatively vague word too, and is dependent on the situation as presented. 
  People may want to indicate that they have the fierce love for art, and here is where the commitment part comes in. Commitment is defined as ‘the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity’. By saying that a person has passion for certain things, it mainly indicates emotional qualities, consisting more sentimental value. Commitment, on the other hand, seems to imply a psychological and physical sense of involvement in the aforementioned situation. 
  Putting both together, by saying that one has passion for art, does not certainly indicate the presence of commitment to the discipline. It simply means that one possess an intense  emotion for something, not necessarily dedication. Deriving from that, a lack of dedication also implies an absence of responsibility. That would be the problem here. 
  Passion is an emotive word, and we all know that emotion is something extremely indistinct. People can get away with things by using emotion (as observed in all complicated situations that usually involves the phrase ‘I love you’). Hence, when a person says, I have a passion, it merely states that he/ she has an intense emotion towards a subject matter. You have a passion, so what now? Having an emotion simply isn’t sufficient to make things work. 
  So far all these seems to put passion in an unfavorable light. Actually no. It’s simply the fact that we all use the word passion too dismissively, too lightly. We instantly relate passion to a positive meaning when we hear it, hence we use it. It is a straightforward word. 
  All too often, you hear people in the art discipline saying ‘I have a passion for arts, that’s why I’m here’ (every other art student, including yours truly); ‘You must be passionate about arts to do it. Live it, breathe it, shit it and sleep with it’ (every other art lecturer who is actually bold enough to use the simple word shit in a sentence. That was sarcasm if you fail to detect); and of course there’s the institute that goes ‘ We are passionate about arts and we are here to teach intelligent young minds who share the same bloody passion’. Certainly, there’s the parents ‘ I want you to study something you have a passion for’, or, ‘Passion for arts is plain ridiculous, you need an education that can get you money’.  
  ALL these people use the word passion. It’s just like the first day in art school and someone asks ‘What do you think creativity is?’. More than half the people will answer ‘To think out of the box’. Personally, I do not find ‘out of the box’ a constructive phrase, it does not explain creativity either. It’s simply a term used too unconsciously, like an involuntary action. And here we go on the improper use of vocabulary before carefully digesting every morsel of the definition. 
  So as I was saying, the word is used too dismissively. We may be saying ‘ I have a passion for arts’ without realizing we could mean: ‘I fucking love arts to bits and pieces but I could ditch it any time I want because it’s just bloody emotion.’ Inappropriate choice of word. 
  Regardless, passion itself is not a problem. I am in fact giving it credit. True, passion is emotion and emotions are unstable and not based on hard facts. Yet, let’s face it, we are all in some way influenced by emotion. A lot of things stem from emotion. Emotion doesn’t accomplish things, not directly. It is a driver.  
  We all do things because there is something inside that is driving us. Hunger drives you to leave the keyboard and make food. Sexual deprivation and mental instability drive the rates of sexual assaults. It is only because you have a passion for something and that is what’s making you do what you’re doing (hopefully). Passion is intense and it could drive people to unusual extents. That is when commitment comes back into the picture. 
  Due to this passion thing we all claim we have, it makes it easier for commitment. I’m not saying passion creates commitment, it is not absolute. If a person has the passion, committing becomes less agonizing. Committing comes naturally for some people because they want to do the thing that they love, and they are ready to take the responsibility that comes with it. 
  I know a lot of peers who have passion for arts, and they come to an art school. That was first step to commitment. Initial commitment isn’t enough. All the hours spent doing things like painting tiny squares of perfect colour value, hue and saturation can kill people on the long run, because it interferes with their online gaming, social networking, clubbing and all the normal things that normal people do. They’ll leave after a semester or two, simply because of workload and the fact that, they don’t want the commitment. Sure, passion makes it easier but it just doesn’t work if you don’t want the responsibility of being physically and mentally involved with what you do. That was simply an observation, not judgement. 
  Here’s a summary to celebrate the fact that you spent 10 minutes reading a long- winded, relatively insignificant article: One, passion is equivalent to emotion and is unstable. Two, people use the word passion too lightly. Three, passion is not commitment. Four, passion can drive us to commit. Five, commitment involves responsibility. 
  So, the next time before you say ‘I have a passion’ , it would be nice to remind yourself that out there somewhere behind the computer screen, a jobless nutcase is looking up the word definition and criticizing your inappropriate choice of vocabulary in the said context. And writing a thousand word commentary about it. 


  1. Joseph Campbell on Maslow and Gauguin


  2. I think we all have passion...sometimes that is a good thing and other times, not-so-good. In fact, passion can drive people to obsession; but, without passion, how else can we really know that we are alive? Emotion is a good thing - it's what makes us all human and more alike than different. It's just one of those things we don't always understand. Only passionate people really understand what passion is and the rest are just shallow people who are filled with words.

    Your blog made me laugh at the end! :D Thanks!

  3. You are most welcome :) Now I've came to think of passion as the fire and commitment the fuel, so they kind of coexist..