The Passion for Utopia, the Utopia of Passion

“Talent is a pursued interest. In other words, anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do.”
Bob Ross, TV host and painter

I had a really interesting talk a few days ago with one of my online friends, Grzegorz (who you can follow here or here or see his new project here), and one subject of our discussion got stuck with me, because we didn’t seem to agree on one point I feel strongly about – passion.

If I understood Greg correctly, he thinks that passion is a scarce resource. Like being a natural redhead – not many people are endowed with the gift of passion. They are not “blessed” with it. The implication here is twofold: no matter how hard adults would try, not every person will be passionate about something in their life, and the environment influence is marginal – a person who has a burning passion within will show it sooner or later.

I have a greatly different standpoint – in my opinion each and every person has a passion circuit built within them, waiting to be turned on. The fact that only a minority of people are deeply passionate about something in their lives is the fault of not coming across The Thing – because of poverty, poor education, no Internet access, abusive families and a plethora of other reasons. Our job, as educators, is to open as many doors as possible for each kid. It’s a quest to find what turns the switch on and build a proper scaffolding around it at the beginner stage. And if we try hard enough, this is possible for every individual. I’m also saying “kids” but sometimes we find passion as an adult, because of lucky circumstances and fun peers / great mentors.

The conflict between those two approaches haunted me – is my approach utopian? – and I asked various people around me about their insight (for complex discussion the shout-out goes to Jasmine, Lazarus and Ausir). While my and Greg’s opinions seemed to be very extreme in comparison, one specific thought from the grey area between them disturbed me (and people opinions swayed both ways). Namely, the fact that probably majority of people have some sort of passion (not 100%; more like 80%) but for various reasons they decide not to pursue it. They PREFER to drop it, never fight for it, never nurture it, for the sake of being regular, normal, don’t stick their heads out. And this is why educators across globe fail – because of the presence of laziness, fear or shame of having a particular passion.

Is that so? How do you feel about it. I really need you feedback on that because of what I do. I MUST KNOW!



4 thoughts on “The Passion for Utopia, the Utopia of Passion

  1. I generally felt the same way as you about everyone having a passion that they can unlock, but recently I read the book So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport and it shifted how I feel about everything a little bit. His hypothesis is that we don’t necessarily have pre-existing passions, but rather we create passion by becoming skilled at something.

    Personally, I think that people might not end up nurturing their passion either because they don’t feel like the reward will be worth the work, they are in a situation that makes it difficult to put in the time, or they just don’t believe that they can accomplish what they’d like to. Definitely an interesting thing to think about!

    • Jeff, thanks for the recommendation, I’m putting the book on my to-read list and if I have a chance to put my hands on it, I will! That’s an interesting perspective! 🙂

  2. これ大切な考えだね。パッションがなかったら、生活って・・・感動的なことだと思う。

    I personally find it hard to accept that most people don’t have passion. It would make life seem meaningless. In my experience, everyone has a passion. There’s always something that when he/she talks about it, his/her eyes light up, and it shows.

    For the sake of practicality, though, many people don’t pursue them; the term “starving artist” is quite often not a hyperbole. It’s important to help “kids” explore their passions in ways that are safe and healthy, taking risks if needs be, but still being careful not to throw out all options… Finding the right balance is not so 簡単, I think.

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