Wednesday, March 14, 2012

For the love of Passion

Passion rebuilds the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
My life is never boring- my friends are artists.

I don’t know if I can express to you what that looks like. Mostly it takes place in sketchy dives- coat closets turned into music spaces, comedic lounges, studios for photos, performance spaces for drama,  or poetry havens. They have hours from late at night to early morning, and sound systems that were originally run by the same people who told the Beatles they would never amount to anything. And the illumination is never optimal- apparently the underground movement is not something that you want to see under good lighting. And while my friends are all talented (and I don’t just say that because they are my friends, but because they actually are an exceptional group to begin with), not all the people who are also participating in the shows that they are in have put in the equal amount of preparation, time, or quite frankly, thought, into their own work. Let’s just say that I have seen a number of stand-up acts that have failed to be as funny as my two year old niece, in five minutes or less. And I have heard a number of “musicians” who make the same kind of music that I hear in the nightmares I have where the clowns are chasing me. A lot of these acts just aren’t pretty. 

But if you have artist friends like I do, you know that these things are worth the squeeze into the seat next to the guy who hasn’t showered since Christmas. Because if you’re friends are like mine, they are the kind of people that make you want to get on board with whatever they are doing. They have the passion. 

Passion is always a funny thing for me- it’s one of those concepts that everyone uses but has trouble describing in detail because no one really knows how to describe it- either you feel it, or you don’t. And my friends are feeling it, about a lot of different things. 

Here is my take on it- passion is that feeling you get when your soul is so caught up in something, that suddenly eating and breathing and sleeping feel a bit futile. You are willing to put aside all the things that usually make you happy just to get some time to pursue whatever it is you are feeling this strongly about. And you’re suddenly willing to disappoint everyone in your world, even the people whose opinions matter most, to achieve excellence in this, your passion.

Want an example? Let me tell you about my friends Lucas and Garrett, who make up a musical outfit known as Brother K. Both Yale graduates with English degrees (Garrett has a bachelors, Lucas has a masters), these guys are funny, sweet, and goofy. But put a guitar (or keyboard, or drum stick) into either of their hands, and suddenly the world spins only for music. Their songs, which I still struggle to put into a genre, express their hearts, both in the stories their words weave, and in the chord progressions that express emotion better than many people do in general. Gone is the lackadaisical attitude that most guys in their 20’s posses- it’s been replaced with these melodic cries of the heart, pouring out to those who get a chance to listen. Recently I did an interview with them (expect it, it’s coming), and took some pictures at one of their band rehearsals, and I actually had to ask Lucas to look up so I could get a shot of his face, because his focus is rarely on the audience and what they are hearing- instead it’s on the instrument in his hand, the words in his mouth, the song that God has given him.  It might explain how he’s ended up in a small apartment in Queens living with too many  roommates. See what I mean? Passion. 

I’ve got my own passions too. If you haven’t figured out that one of them is writing, then either you aren’t reading, or I really need to work on my blog, because it’s not coming across. And if you read the post directly before this one, you may get the into that I’m really into music, and you’d be right. But as a Messianic  Jew, my biggest passion is the Savior, and all He’s done for me. My heart beats for the fact that God would send a part of Himself to go through a horrible and painful death, that He loves me enough to give me a second chance at life, and that He’s given me the freedom to believe it. It makes the air feel gentle. It makes anything that excludes it feel pointless. And trust me, it disappoints many people who know me. I’ve made unpopular decisions based on my belief. I’ve made life changing choices that I wouldn’t have made otherwise. It factors into everything. It’s what I live for. 

Passion is funny though, because if you don’t maintain it, it starts to fall to the wayside. You let go, and before you know it, it’s five years, ten years, twenty years later, and you find yourself missing it, but no longer part of it. It takes work, effort, toil- it’s not just something you have. It’s something you’re given, and if you don’t take care of it, it’s gone. Which leaves you feeling like eating, breathing, and sleeping are just processes to get you through the day.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been given a life to live, and I want it to be full of passion. Which is how I end up at these dives in the middle of the night, watching people try to find a way to share theirs with a world of people who sometimes look down on following your heart. Watching, listening, and thinking that one day, these people are going to be someone everyone knows, but for now, I know that they are pretty great.

Maybe I’m a dreamer. Or maybe I’m just passionate about passion. Either way, I plan to follow it until the end.

Like I said, my life is never boring.

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