Passion

Hello there ladies and gents, welcome back to my blog. In case you missed it, I put a bonus blog post this past Sunday here: http://randomnessarranged.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/mailbox

And if you’re not following my blog but would like to receive notifications about when I eat, sleep, shower…oh wait. Hold on. Oh. I guess you’ll only receive notifications when I post so if you’re into that sort of thing, I’d love more followers. All you have to do is click on the button that says “follow” or “subscribe.” For those of you with your fancy-pants smart phones, you might have to do this on an Ipad or computer, but give it whirl on your phone anyway. It could work.

I had an idea about what I was going to post about today and even went as far as drafting said post last night until I came across a quote this morning that I really felt deserved some extra attention.

Before I delve into the quote, allow me to provide you with a little background history (yes, it’s relevant). I joined Facebook many years after most people. I became a member, if you will, in the summer of 2009 after surviving a very harrowing (but strangely wonderful) trip in Peru. By that point, everyone was doing it. I would run into people from high school at the super market and we’d talk about how our lives were going and upon parting ways they would ask me, “Hey, are you on Facebook?” I would cringe internally, knowing that my true answer, “no”, was socially unacceptable for the most part. They would respond with a look of shock, but also let me know that if I were join, I could “friend” them. What?

I did not know Facebook lingo. I’m lucky I even understand my native language of English. So eventually, I gave in. I signed up for Facebook and posted two pictures. That was it. And for a long time, my Facebook page remained one of only two pictures.
Shortly after joining, I began receiving “friend requests” and then I began to pick up on the language. I learned how to “like” posts, how to comment, and eventually, how to post more pictures. I rarely, for some time, put up any posts of my own. What would I say?

Some people have the most interesting things to say and others consistently complain, post more selfies than I could ever count in a lifetime, or literally spell out every move they make throughout the course of the day. I had to find the sweet spot. I didn’t want my posts to be insincere nor did I want to provide the public with too much information about my personal life (obviously things have changed). But there’s a time and a place for everything.

And so it began. I would post once in a while about certain things (got a job, happy holidays, et cetera). Then I started to post simple things like what I was watching (Buffy, Criminal Minds, House), what I was drinking (good coffee, red wine) or what I was doing (relaxing with a book). Surprisingly these posts got a fair amount of “likes.” I thought this was interesting. I pay close attention to what people “like” and what people leave alone on Facebook. Not necessarily on my own status but on the stats of others as well. As a sociologist, it’s similar to cyber-people watching. I’m now at a point where I guess who will like what posts I share. If something breaks news, I can guess who will post about it. I know who to expect a new selfie from each week, and the list goes on.

I wanted to be active in the Facebook community (especially since online communities are easier for me to access than in-person communities), but I wanted to do it well.

It started slow.

People really “liked” when I would post a quote. Usually my quotes came from a Criminal Minds episode or a Dove dark chocolate wrapper. Once in a great while I would stumble on a quote from a book and post it.

Then I got into a habit. Every holiday season, I post my favorite holiday songs. Every Halloween, I post the theme song to Halloween (the movie), and on the first day of every Summer, I post the video to “Summertime” by the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff. It’s kind of like my thing.

Then I started posting about my blog because, well, self-promoting. It’s an evil necessity. And then I started posting about my books because…um…same reason. I needed to sell myself. Also, I’m proud (most days) of what I’ve accomplished and I want to share it with the Facebook world. The people who know the obstacles I’ve overcome to achieve what I have tend to have the strongest reactions to these posts. They know that it’s more than just an update. It’s a milestone.

At some point this happened: #TBT. Me (being me) had to Google what this acronym meant because it was happening on Twitter as well. I came to find that it meant “Throw Back Thursday.” Apparently, this is the day of the week in which people post older photos of themselves on Facebook. I’m all about going back in time but I lacked photos. I needed to figure out a way to get involved. So I settled on my own version. I post a video and/or song from earlier time. I have a preference for 80s and 90s music. Now I’m invested. I’ve even started to wonder if people expect it. Maybe even look forward to it? Doesn’t really matter. I have fun with it.

Then I decided I wanted to post more quotes. Not just from Criminal Minds and chocolate, but other quotes. It started when I was trying to psyche myself out whilst writing my third book, With a Purpose, which was really challenging for me to write. Also, if you haven’t read it, it would be awesome if you did and if you did then it would be awesome if you rated it on Amazon (sorry, I couldn’t pass up a promotional opportunity…you understand). But I digress. I posted a quote related to fate, purpose, love, or any other theme that ran through the book. I noticed that lots of people “liked” these quotes. When I started receiving private messages from people telling me things like, “I’m always curious as to which quote you’ll choose next” or “I look forward to your morning quotes.” This kind of shocked me because the people who sent me messages like these were not people who “liked” the quote. This is just proof that if someone doesn’t Facebook “like” your status, it doesn’t mean that they actually did not like it. Well, after receiving these messages, who was I to stop? So after the book was complete, I kept finding quotes. Now, it’s one of my Facebook things.

Every morning, I run a search for quotes. I pick a topic that is top of mind and carefully read the results of my search until I find one that really speaks to me and that I want to share. Then I post it and then I write down in a log what quote I’ve posted in hopes to never repeat myself. So when you read the quotes I post now you know that a lot of thought, effort and time goes into what I’ve put out there.
Now let’s jump around because, in case you forgot, the name of my blog is randomnessarranged. Emphasis on the random.

When I couldn’t work a traditional job anymore, I felt like I had lost a part of myself. Most of my jobs had been in human services because, you see, I was going to save the world (yes, exactly like Buffy). So I went from a super hero in training to (what felt like) a nobody. My therapist advised me to tap into what I’m passionate about to fill this void. Before this, I had only really thought of passion in a sexual way. So I had to go home to think this through. What am I passionate about?
Come to find out, I’m an extremely passionate person. Once I fully understood what it meant to feel passion or be passionate, it was clear that passion was something I have never lacked for as far back as I can remember.

I’m passionate about helping others, poetry, people, sociology, music, Buffy, Merlot, dark chocolate, and my strong set of personal beliefs regarding various topics.
I felt good knowing I had passions. I began to incorporate them into my regular life. I started reading more. I set aside time every day to listen to music. I never stopped writing poetry. I watched Buffy whenever I could and I usually have both Merlot and dark chocolate most nights of the week. This was my starting point. Knowing my passions….the things I really really liked and held to be of high importance on my list of life fulfilling things and surrounding myself with them started to make me happy…like happy in my heart.

It was a reminder that even though I could no longer engage in conversations with my friends about how both of our jobs were going, co-worker issues and such, I could still engage in other types of meaningful conversations because I knew about things. They were the things I really liked to talk about: my passions. It turns out that if you are really excited about something because it means so much to you (so long as you are not pushing it on other people) most of the time, people are kind of excited (or at least amused) to listen to what you have to say.

Then, as you all know, the blog happened and then something much bigger: the publication of my books. I came to find not only that my passion for writing was far greater than I had ever imagined, but that it would take me places within myself that I did not know existed. Additionally, my writing would serve not only as an outlet but a way to connect with others (another thing I’m VERY passionate about). Getting up each day knowing I was going to work on a novel was one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt in my entire life. It really made me feel like my day had a meaning and that I was, in fact, working and mostly that I was a somebody. I was a writer.

In the past few months, after releasing my third book, something within me shifted. We’ve been through this. It’s not writer’s block. It’s fear in its purest form. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of never finishing. Fear of finishing and never publishing. And the list goes on. Do I have ideas? Um…have you met me? Yes, I have ideas. But the fear is too great. Fret not, I’m trying to overcome. We’ll see what happens in time.
That feeling of being a somebody; a writer; having a purpose; having a passion so great that no words can define it or explain…it’s diminishing inside me. I’m holding on by posting quotes on Facebook and keeping up with my blog (see I told you it would come together). I’m not ready to let go of words. I’ve never ever stopped writing once I started years and years ago. No matter what it was, I was always writing something. I do not intend to stop now. I’m just a little lost, that’s all.

Here’s the thing. Being as passionate as I was. As I am? Hmm. Anyways, this passion of mine was great for me and it not so great for me. All I wanted to do was write. Okay, so I could be swayed to going out for a glass of Merlot, watching an episode of Buffy or Orange is the New Black, but mostly, I wanted to sit at home and finish whatever story I was working on. Yes, I have obsessive behaviors as you well know, but this was different…sort of. Writing these stories made me feel alive and knowing that when they were done, they would be released into the world and connect me to others as a result was a wonderful feeling that I’m not sure can be rivaled. Writing became my lifeline. It made me feel like I was giving something to the world. And that, should a seizure (or anything else including old age) take my life, I will have left something behind.

But being passionate can get in the way. Passion can connect you to people but it can also isolate you. Just the other day, I found out that a friend of mine has a very different opinion on a subject matter than I do and it’s a subject matter that I’m passionate about. I had to check myself and remind myself that no matter what, I try to NOT judge others but rather, to understand where they are coming from and why. But passion can cause wars. It can cause actual wars and it cause wars within oneself.
See, once you know what you are passionate about and/or once you realize that you are a passionate person, you have to learn to walk the fine line of balance.

And having a balance doesn’t necessarily mean that you are giving up on what you believe in or that your values have weakened; it simply means you are practicing empathy and compassion. It means you want to understand the thought processes that differ from yours because your top priority is to be a better person. A better person respects the ideas and beliefs of others while still holding onto to their own beliefs and ideas.
I’m not saying this is easy especially since we live in a world in which people are constantly trying to push their beliefs onto us and if we don’t buy in, we are judged. Sometimes (sadly) even put in danger or worse. But if we just respected one another’s differences it would be a really good way to start creating a more peaceful world.
I am learning that just because I’m liberal, it doesn’t mean that all my friends have to be. Just because I’m a feminist, it doesn’t mean all my friends have to be. We might disagree on certain issues, but we hear each other out. We learn from each other. It doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. They are passionate about x and I am passionate about y. If no one is getting hurt and we generally enjoy one another then what’s the problem? #whycantwebefriends

Right now, I’m getting up and facing each day the same way I advise you all to do. Yes, I’m trying to practice what I preach. Actually, I’m not trying to preach (just fyi). I’m starting slow because even though passion can be a double edged sword, it kept me going. Maybe I can’t have it all. Maybe I have to make sacrifices. And maybe we all do. I have to figure this out. We have to know where our passion lies and how flexible we are willing to be when it come our passions. But having a passion or being passionate, I think, is a good thing. I think it energizes the soul and the spirit. You just can’t let it get out of control. Nothing in extremes will lead to a happy ending.

People often talk about the tortured artist. I’ve even joked about it because, in a way, I feel like I am one. When you are truly passionate about something, it can consume you. Whether it’s music, words, art, your job, etc. And it’s hard to explain to others why you feel the way you do about something. Their lack of understanding or even trying to understand can leave a person feeling very alone. For example, when I’m writing, I feel almost crazy. I am so connected to the storyline and the characters and so dedicated to telling their story/my story, whatever, that it’s all I think about. It’s all I want to talk about. It’s all I want to be doing and very few people get it…or so I thought.

And then came this morning. I went on my usual hunt for a quote for my Facebook status and found one by none other than a genius writer I truly admire, Joss Whedon, the writer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I would advise you all to refrain from laughing until and/or unless you’ve actually watched multiple episodes of Buffy and paid close attention to the themes, the character development, and the dialogue. It’s brilliant and has many layers. So anyways, I came across this quote and now I’m feeling pretty confident that I’m not alone in my kind of crazy, passionate mind and that even though I feel like it’s (my passion) gone…like it has somehow escaped me, the truth is it probably hasn’t. Maybe once something (or even someone) is in you, they remain in you.
I would like to think that passion is all about finding that sweet spot, too…like a Facebook status. Kind of finding the place where you honor your passions but reign them in enough so that everything and everyone is safe.

But doesn’t that defy what passion is? Can passion be tamed? Can it be controlled? I’m not really sure.

I can only speak for myself in saying that I think it’s important to have passion even if no one else understands. It’s special and no one can take that away from you. If it brings greater meaning to your existence then why let it slip away? I also think that we can live in a world where we can be passionate yet peaceful. I think this is possible because I’m also a hopeful person. I do not think that we have to sacrifice peace for passion. Passion might actually bring a person a sense of peace. On the flipside, it can cause a person to feel insane. It’s fascinating to me. Maybe we should all try practicing being passionate ABOUT peace and then see what happens? But no matter what, isn’t it better to feel something than to feel nothing at all?

Oh right. That quote you were waiting for.

“Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead.”
― Joss Whedon

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