Passion: All Cheetahs Have It

Posted on March 1, 2012. Filed under: General Interest, language | Tags: , , , , , , |

Passion, then, is best described as an extra-normal condition that manifests itself in normal people from time to time.  It is a temporary condition that is all-consuming, full of angst, and selectively justifies everything in accordance with the demands of its very narrow goals.  A passion that does not abate is an ongoing condition called obsession.  (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that resides just a few doors down from a place called Madness.)

Cheetahs got passion?  An ongoing concern for the cheetah (your standard African house cat) is a daily need to eat.  It spends much of the day looking over the available menu items, and, while almost every thing is appealing, there is a slight problem:  none of the juicy tidbits is eager to join him for din-din.  That means serious take-out, along with all the associated problems.  Our spotted tabby makes a selection, moves in as close as possible, and then — pedal to the metal — sells out its entire energy supply to sate an uncompromising need.  Whether successful or not, the big cat cannot reproduce this extreme effort until its energy stores are replaced.  This all-consuming need — survival at its most primal — moves through the cat like the rhythm of the tides, now ebbing, now surging, manifesting itself in all-out effort, heedless of the cost to SELF; the goal is all there is.  Passion, by definition, is a trait of the cheetah.

When it comes to passion, my antipathy toward it (or, at least, toward the current tendency to overuse the word) has its roots in a year 2011 PBS series about a former US president, Woodrow Wilson.  No problem with Woodrow, you understand, rather with the repetitious use of the word passion to describe seemingly everything about him.  Numerous blurbs about his interests, attested to one after the other by various attestants, each oozing the word “passionate” from between their lips as they lovingly caressed every syllable.  I lost count of how many passions he pursued (simultaneously?) before I passionately pursued a quest for a barf-bag while fumbling desperately for the remote channel changer.  (Honest, I would have taken notes had I known I was destined to be plugging away at this blog.)

I point you to my two previous observations about obsession and the personal cost of the cheetah’s pursuits.  Either Woodrow was a mad man, or, me thinks, the attesting attestants attesteth too much.  (Yeah, I should apologize for that, but, I think it’s pretty cute.)

Next up:  Can a word pimp itself out?

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Passion: A Real Pain

Posted on February 29, 2012. Filed under: language, Religion | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Passion.  Just what does that word mean?  I’ve heard it used all my life;  until recently, not a lot, but enough to get a feel for its meaning.  In my really early years, it was just a word that conveyed some sort of meaning that eluded me, such as the thread at the top of a New Testament page (Holy Bible, KJV) that read “The Passion of the Christ: in reference to The Crucifiction.  Imagine my confusion later when I realized the word was most often used in association with a heightened awareness of sexual attraction, lust, greed, et cetera.  Over time, my perception of the word’s meaning has elongated a bit to become “a very strong feeling about a person, thing, or activity.:  While that is a more relaxed perception than my earliest one, it still did not sit well with “passion of the Christ.”  What to do?  I KNOW!  Look it up in the dictionary…   finally.

Aha!  Mystery solved.  Passion, in year 1175, meant “suffering”  or “to suffer.”  Scribes/translators of the Bible used “Passion of the Christ” as a sub-title in organizing the Christian narrative.  But, how did we get from “suffering” to “intense interest in?”

In the case of The Christ, passion meant unspeakable emotional and physical agony.  This passion was a one-time, acute, fixed point in His earthly sojourn.  His commitment was to meet, then pass through that crescendo of suffering for the betterment of humankind.

This agony does not have to be physical.  As part of the crucifixion drama, the Christ also endured a night of great emotional suffering.  In similar fashion, a person engulfed by an intense and personal struggle (whether for unrequited love or social conscience) may well experience great agony and suffering.  This internal state would aptly, then, be a state of passion.  Crimes committed to sate an intense emotional state, often violently, fit into this “suffering” category and could be referred to as crimes of passion.  So, originally, passion referred to severe angst over an immanent decision, event, or situation that the person had to unwillingly either make or endure.

Next up:  I’m not sure, but hang in there and we’ll pin down this passion thing.

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