Thought Catalog
November 5, 2013

Gatorade In Hell: The Lie Of Living A Passionate Life

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It doesn’t exist – the daydream, that is. The feeling which we so often flag as “falling in love,” is nothing more than a myth preached us by the lost romantics who are themselves, still dreaming. But when the alarm clock rings and one returns to planet earth, you realize that it’s just not there. The serendipitous romance, is simply that – a fictitious flick upon the screen of life. It doesn’t last, though maybe we all wish it would. And the only difference between the lonely drunk living under the bridge and the happily married guy in the suburbs is that the latter simply snapped out of it sooner – and hey, good for him.

See, he realized that his chances of marrying “that girl” or ending up with “that career,” were about as surefire as the odds that they serve Gatorade in hell. So he shook himself of the delusion. He woke up one day, put down the guitar, put on a tie, and realized that while love songs might be ethereal, money sure as shit comes in handy down here. He applied himself to work, stayed politely ambitious, and through this growing mixture of temporal security and the pursuit of pleasantry he acquired himself a career, a wife, and a three-car garage – in that order. So what if he got the job from his dad, met the wife at the bar on a company outing, and financed the house through the same bank for which he now works? At least he’s not the guy under the bridge or the loser singing out his soul in the coffee shop. As far as he sees it, as long as he remains mildly faithful to the wife, mildly conscious at work, and mildly enthused about spending his weekends at Home Depot, he’ll be able to glide through until he’s 50 and can retire, buy the boat, and give the finger to the world from South Florida. Oh, and he’ll keep himself feeling good the whole time by serving soup on the weekends to all the guys under the bridge.

We talk about love and passion a lot. And the lie is that love and passion are good things, in and of themselves.

But they’re not.

Living with passion will cost you. It’ll cost you money and it’ll cost you prestige and pats on the back. It’ll probably even cost you the girl. And that’s rough. It’ll cost you mistakes, and it’ll cause you regret. It will make demands of you. And these demands will wear you down, more so than the already treacherous demands of a normal life. Passion will push you to the edge. It will cause you to pack your bags on nothing but the hunch that there might just be something more to learn out on the flip side of the sphere. Or it will push you to put in the extra hours, or take the low paying job so you have more free time to chase a dream of being an artist. It will push you to hit the gym at 10 o’clock at night when you want nothing more than to go to bed. It will challenge you to open up to new friendships, to learn to accept vastly different worldviews, and to put your own beliefs to the fiery test.

Mostly though, it will cause you pain. It will demand that you push yourself past your personal limits, and it will accept no less.

But the next day, passion will remind you why you came. Pleasure and pain will mix together in a fury of emotions that range round your heart as another drag of the cigarette burns sweet sorrow in your chest. You’ll miss home. You’ll miss the good times. You’ll even miss the bad. But passion will pick you up. You are better for it, passion will say – and for the moment, you’ll believe him. But the night comes cold again and there you are, a hundred thousand moon shadows away. It’s at that point that you will question passion, and again he will answer – but beware twisting the answer into a lie. Beware mistaking the adrenaline rush for the real thing. TC mark

There are a lot of passionate people in high-rise offices and three-car suburbia. I admire them. There are also a lot of passionate junkies. I admire them too. As I get older I tend to think that in a temporal way, there’s not much difference difference between the two.

Passion is only as good as its object. To say someone is passionate is to say little more than he is human. You can be passionate about watching ESPN every morning. You can be passionate about legalizing weed. You can be passionate about Jesus. Passion is good. It is also bad. It expresses an aliveness. But it also expresses obsession, greed, lies, selfishness.

At the end, it’s not enough to live with passion. It is not enough simply to love. It is only the source and object of those affections which matter.

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