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passion and the pursuit of happiness

Face it, life at the tail end of February, when it looks as if you are doomed to an eternity of winter, can be pretty dire. Life at the tail end of February when the nightly news seems to be one endless conspiracy to make you as depressed as humanly possible is worse. Unemployment is way up, consumer spending is way down, there are cutbacks and bailouts and plane crashes galore and only a man in the White House to maek us feel better, and he’s not too thrilled, either. To misquote one favorite nihilist, stare into the abyss, and eventually, the abyss might blink. But it won’t be any lighter.

I do not take kindly to the blues. I do not particularly care to wallow in misery, my own or others’, simply because as I see it, life is far too short. You might as well try to be happy when you can, in a few all too brief moments, and if you do it long enough, or hard enough, it just might add up to a series of instances you can look back upon in your disgruntled, disillusioned old age and say, with all the inborn pessimism of the nonogenarian, that it could have been – worse.

I therefore propose a return to – passion. That great, all-consuming fire in your belly that gets your motor revving and sets your soul soaring above your own petty limitations and poor excuses for not feeding that fire.

Now, most of us have a very narrow definition of – passion. It seems to imply things like X-rated scenarios and other people.

Not so. Passion can be anything that turns you on. Satin sheets, a dirty weekend and a willing co-conspirator are all very nice, but eventually, one way or another, the dreaded Monday morning of the mind will arrive, and there you’ll be, wondering why the phone doesn’t ring, your inbox is empty, you have received no text messages within the last 15 seconds. Or else how that scorching fireball of seething lust turned into the useless, apathetic couch potato you have been stuck with ever since.

Passion, my friends, is not lust.

Well, if it isn’t, then what IS it?

To begin with, it’s an individual thing. My passion – any one of them, and I have quite a few – may well be your untimate turn-off or kill clause. And vice versa. Your vice could be my versa. That’s not the point.

Say you for insecurity reasons of your own claim that, nope, there’s really nothing you’re passionate about. You have no creative talent or gift, there’s ho hidden Picasso in your run-of-the-mill genes.

Passion is not creativity, and creativity is another thing we generally define in the narrowest of terms. Screw those definitions.

Start by asking yourself one question. Close your eyes. Sit comfortably.

Now, ask yourself: What makes YOU happy to do that does NOT involve other people? What activity can you do for you?

Not because it might make you famous, not because you might make a zillion bucks off it, not because it might garner you some personal acceptance and approval you have sorely lacked in your sad and bathetic life.

What do you do because you cannot bear the idea of NOT doing it, whatever “it” is?

Maybe it’s ruining your eardrums with strange noises, maybe it’s the pursuit of culinary perfection, maybe it’s spending the entire weekend watching every season of “Law and Order”. Sorting your stamp collection. Committing the perfect murder to paper. Whatever. Anything goes.

Just do it, as often as you can. If you can’t find the time, then make the time. Turn off the TV, for a change.

Who cares WHAT it is – when the whole issue is THAT it is, that it does – make you, even in a few all-too-brief timespan, happy. Fulfilled. It makes you forget about all those things that bring you down – the mortgage, the bills. the endless catalog of misery known as the nightly news. It reminds you why is isn’t always bad to be alive.

It might even remind you that there is a life after all, the kind of life you want to live, as opposed to the life you’re doomed to live.

I’m warning you, though. A passion can be a dangerous thing. Take it too far and it can become an obsession. Don’t take it far enough, and it could become a regret, a regret of what you could have done if only you..

Go put your own stamp on the planet.

After all, what have you got to lose, except your sanity?

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