Passion (pash`en), noun… Definition #1: Any emotion or feeling as love, desire, anger, hate, fear, grief, joy, hope, etc., when of a powerful or compelling nature, extravagant fondness.
Definitions #2, 3, 4 and 5 involve sex and lust and, admittedly, this is the first thing most of us think about when we hear the word passion. However, when I consider extravagant fondness other things also come to mind.
What am I extravagant about? Women? Certainly! Ever since I noticed Kathy Anderson in a pink Angora sweater standing in the junior high school cafeteria line, I have been tempted by more than my share of fascinating women.
The next thing for which I have been extravagant are motorcycles. For nearly 50 years there has continually been at least one motorcycle in my garage, at times as many as 15 and currently there are 12. I guess that qualifies me as being passionate about motorcycles.
If there is a choice I ride a bike instead of driving a car. My 1999 Chevy truck, which I bought new, gets driven once every 10 days and has less than 40,000 miles on it, many of which were collected on two long trips to Canada.
In previous columns I have written that I want to ride motorcycles for as long as I live. In one I wrote that I had a dream and saw my death at the age of 103. The dream was: While making love to an exotic woman, her husband comes home and, seeing us in bed, throws a temper tantrum. Pulling on my pants I go out the second-story window, shinny down a drainpipe and run for my bike. The husband shoots at me with a .45, but because I am running serpentine he misses with the first two shots. I reaching my motorcycle and commence kickstarting it, but because I am 103 years old and have lost a step or two, he has time for steady aim and one last shot. That round gets me. There I am… dead next to an idling motorcycle at the age of 103, having just had great sex with a beautiful woman and killed by a jealous husband.
In the dream, my mind is still sharp, my balance is good and all of my important bodily functions are still intact and working perfectly. But my bad knee has slowed me down, allowing the husband one lucky shot. I’ll accept that.
Sometimes, to know you’re alive you have to take chances and push your limits. Agreeable women and motorcycles at the age of 103 are taking chances and pushing the limits.
In a complete life, passion is mandatory. Without passion, everything is just waiting.
People who have little or no passion in their lives are the melancholics who make the mistake of thinking that they can work at dreary jobs, eat tasteless food, sleep with people for whom they have no feelings, retire with a gold watch and then wait for their real life to start. Retired, they soon die never having lived.
It seems odd that young people show so little passion about anything other than staring into an electronic box and punching keys with their thumbs.
Obviously that is not universally true; every once in awhile I run into a kid who is passionate about music or surfing or skiing or hunting or fishing or the shooting sports. However, for every kid who is never without a guitar or a trumpet or a surfboard or a rifle or a fishing pole, there are 100 of their friends who stare into small boxes and get calloused thumbs sending inane oblique texts. “Like fursure dude, perfect, LOL, all over it man, like, exactly, yaknow incredible, yeah, that was like amazing, ROTFL.”
It is no wonder that zombie movies are so popular. I see teenagers all over town with that zombie-blank stare walking around texting one another. Being too stupid to watch where they are going, their bleeding skulls come from walking into trees. Dragging one leg, the zombie limp is a consequence of unthinking crosswalk challenges with automobiles. Zombies want to kill and eat the brains of their victims. That makes sense. They have no brains of their own.
Sure, you could make the argument that these brain-dead-texting zombies have a passion for the electronic box, but it is not my definition of passion.
Passion, extravagant fondness, puts a person at risk; at risk with his money, his lifestyle, his personality, his friends, how he lives, where he lives, how he gets through the day, what kind of work he does, how he sees life, how he plans his life, how he considers the fear and danger involved with his passion.
Those of us that have passion for something don’t understand those that have passion for nothing. How do these zombies get through the day? When they rise in the morning there is nothing to look forward to, nothing to excite them, nothing to plan their lunch around, nothing to work for or save their money for. Do they sleep at night? Do they stay up into the wee hours of the morning figuring how to enjoy life tomorrow more than they did today?
Passionate people are easy to spot. Their color is good; their personalities are engaging; their conversations are animated. Those without passion are the gray people who talk about physical ailments and the medications they are taking. Any stories they tell are 10 years old. They are downers that prove victimhood is indeed a way of life.
Please do not read this as a presumption that everyone has to be passionate about motorcycles. Extravagant fondness can be achieved from rose gardening or Civil War reenacting or chess or writing poetry or photography or fly fishing or wine collecting or anything that keeps your mind active and alert.
So, this is to remind myself as much as everyone else: Go for a ride or pick a rose or go to the gym or chase women that are known not to run very fast. Get up off your butt and do something, anything, and while you’re at it take one of the zombie children with you. Make them leave their smartphones at home and have a conversation about PASSION.