Daily Archives: November 14, 2013

Passion and Suffering

For Jill - keep writing

Last month I saw someone ask on Twitter, “What are you willing to suffer for?” My knee-jerk response was, “Nothing. I’m not willing to suffer for anything.” But let me unpack this more.

The root of the word “passion,” from the Latin pasi, means “to suffer.”

After I returned from my 3-month trip to SE Asia in 2011, I realized that I wanted to change my orientation from alleviating suffering (which is predicated on the notion that suffering has to continue) to increasing joy (there can never be too much joy). This was profound for me. I started a “more joy” project, to increase my own awareness about what created more joy for myself.

And in the couple of years since I started exploring this idea, I’ve discovered something along the way, which was made abundantly clear to me when I was walking around Kamakura, Japan last month. I was beyond exhausted, and yet, I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to keep experiencing what there was to see. And it was one of the best days I spent in Japan.

When there is something I feel passionate about, when I am enjoying myself, even though there is discomfort, I am not distracted by it.

I have been searching for a long time, looking for my place, my people, where I might fit in, where I might lose my self-consciousness, but I’ve also been hiding. It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve started to be honest about what gives me joy, to say it’s okay to enjoy life, and to follow the things that bring me joy. Other than my relationships, the only other things I’ve lost myself in is the process of writing.

I have a long way to go to improve my craft, and there are definitely things that are difficult and challenging, but always, always, is the feeling of enjoyment. And now that I think of it, anything that is sustainable and long-lasting for me has to have the element of joy. Otherwise, what’s the point?

What brings you joy? What sustains you through the dark times?

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