How Passion Can Steal Your Soul

When I was younger I had a burning passion for all things health and fitness. I read books and magazines (remember those?), asked questions and had discussions, trained hard, ate healthy foods, and basically immersed myself in that world. I still do those things today, but it’s a bit tempered.

Then, one of my first real, professional jobs was at a wellness center for a hospital. We ran the center for a variety of patrons including hospital employees, post rehab patients, and the surrounding community. In my mind I was in the right place.

Aside from the rehab duties and wonderful fellow staff, I had a slight twinge in my stomach. Later I realized it was from the fact that I had quietly given up my little secret and was afraid of losing it.

Let me explain.

For the sake of it and only it

I recently read this post from John P. Weiss. In it he eloquently details the need for uselessness in our lives. Not necessarily creating waste or expending useless energy, but to act on our passions without the modern marketing-driven purpose of promoting, sharing, and monetizing.

To create for the sake of creating. For the sole purpose of doing the thing because we want to do the thing. No posting on social media, no promoting to others for notoriety, and no monetizing for financial gain.

To create. Period.

It struck a serious chord with me. It brought me back to that fateful day at the wellness center where I felt I had lost a little something — that I let others in on my secret. You see, health and fitness was always something that I took personally. I sought information for myself and to subsequently help others. I felt I needed to become an “expert” in order to help those around me.

Some artists will often feel like they shouldn’t talk about their work too much in fear that they will release and lose the energy for that work. They want to direct, guide, and manifest that energy into their creative pursuits rather than lose it to the outside world.

I felt a little of that all those years ago. Over time I simply brushed it aside and continued to seek jobs in the health and fitness field. I felt like it was where I needed to be. Since I had the passion for it in my personal life why not share it with the world? Why be so selfish? But my ambition quickly started to dilute my reasoning.

The case for uselessness

Fast forward to today and we find ourselves in a world of self-promotion, mass marketing, and intense advertising. If we create anything we have this odd inkling to promote it, to post it on social media, and/or to sell it. We almost feel an obligation to do so.

What happened? We’re all jumping on the bandwagon either for fame, money, or both. We’ve been offered a free(?) and open invitation by social media to develop an unhealthy mindset that we too can become a celebrity of sorts.

Case in point: My other blog is all about health and fitness. It started years ago as a passion project — something to express that passion and help others along the way. It didn’t take long for my desire to monetize it, to turn it into an income stream. I quickly started to read anything and everything about fitness marketing, content creation, and how to promote it in the best way possible. I found myself spending more and more time keeping a close eye on social media metrics, too.

My passion became a burden. The magic started to dissipate and I lost the real reason I started in the fitness industry to begin with.

Our passion steals our soul

My wife likes to paint. She’s created some very impressive pieces, but has never had a single thought about selling them or boasting about them. She started the creative process for the sake of creating something for our home. She painted for the sake of art, home, and family.

Passion can steal your soul. If we decide to venture outside of the realm of pure love of the thing, that love will potentially start to decay. It won’t happen overnight, but it will start in the shadows, sneaking up on us ever so slightly without warning. Over time we will find ourselves in the vapid, sterile environment of chipping away our passion brick by brick until the entire structure crumbles.

Our passion becomes heavy, burdensome, and unattractive.

It becomes a foreign entity, once familiar long ago. We chalk it up as maturing or moving on, but there’s a quiet, truthful voice in our head that subtly needles us with a pang of guilt.

Is it time to revisit those feelings? Is it time to value the art of creating for the sake of creating? Is it time to take back our soul and fulfill our passion without the need to be seen?

There’s too much at stake for us not to. In a noisy, self-centered world, do we owe it to ourselves to find that joy again? To create just to create?

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