This essay is principally about the process of becoming passionate about things. It is also to some extent about what underpins appreciation and passion. I will use the following as my definitions of appreciation and passion. They are: Passion: “A strong enthusiasm for something, or the object of strong enthusiasm”; (taken from the Collins English Dictionary); and appreciate: “to be grateful for something, or pleased that circumstances allow it to happen”. (My own definition).
First I will write about how the cornerstone of appreciation is acceptance, and how this impacts on the appreciation of various things. Then I will write about how you cannot be passionate about something instantly; but it goes through a process of trying it, liking it, deepening and/or expanding the interest, and building motivation until you reach a plateau. I will then tie this in with my earlier bit about appreciation and acceptance. Finally I will summarise.
As I said in the previous paragraph, the cornerstone of appreciation is acceptance. If you do not accept a certain aspect of a person or thing, you will be too busy focusing on the bad in them or it to appreciate the good. This applies to accepting that you cannot always have a luxury, accepting faults in people you know, and accepting various forms of inconvenience.
I accept the inconvenience of often having to walk 45 minutes to my veggie garden. This allows me to both appreciate the walk, and appreciate the times when I can take the bus. If I did not accept having to walk most of the time, I would either only go there occasionally, and not appreciate the bus ride; or I would not have a veggie garden a 45 minute walk away at all.
If I did not accept that one of my friends has issues with poverty, addiction, and low self-esteem, I would not be able to appreciate his generosity. I would be too busy focusing on what I don’t like about him, to appreciate what I do like about him.
Now let us move on to passion. You can instantly like something but you cannot instantly be passionate about something. Becoming passionate is a process. Once you try something, there are basically three options: You can say that’s awful, I’m not doing that again; you can say that’s not too bad, and I like the consequences, so I will do that again; or you can say I enjoyed that, so I’ll do it again. You cannot be passionate about something you perceive as “awful”, because you won’t do it again.
If you think “this is not too bad”, and you like the consequences you will be willing to do it again. The more often you do an activity, as long as the activity has depth to it, the deeper your interest in that activity will become. I have been using Wellington City public transport for almost twenty years, and I wouldn’t say that activity has any “depth” to it. I have been passionate about walking for seven years now. This involves accepting the aches and pains which go with walking and accepting the exhaustion which a longwalk results in.This allows me to appreciate the scenery and fresh air; and to enjoy the relaxing and meditative aspects of walking.
If I did not accept the discomforts involved in walking, I’d be too busy focusing on the negatives to appreciate the positives. Then there is the issue that while you can instantly like something, you cannot instantly be passionate about it. I instantly liked betting a limited amount on the horses. I made a profit six out of the first seven weeks. But it was not until I learned about all the big races; learned about racing jargon, and learned techniques, such as always backing rank outsiders in the low grades, that I became passionate about betting. I have been betting for almost ten years now, and my passion reached a plateau after I had been betting for about four years. My techniques for betting responsibly also play a big part in my being passionate rather than obsessed with betting.
And being passionate about betting does involve motivation and acceptance. I used to find it difficult, but now I usually find it easy to forgo betting six days a week. Very occasionally I still do find it difficult. Occasionally I am tempted to reinvest my money. Last time that happened, I just made a decision as to what few extra groceries I would but with eight dollars, and went and bought them. But my ability to motivate adds richly to my enjoyment of betting. Yes, I was thrilled with the eighty to one shot I got in April 2005, but I am so much more proud of the fact that I always bet responsibly. If I did not bet responsibly I would cease to appreciate it and get stuck in a rut. When we appreciate something we are usually able to let go of it, and not have it all the time.
I often write, but I don’t get upset if I haven’t written for a fortnight; I can let go of walking; accept it when a job application doesn’t go my way, and so on. So accepting the bad in something or someone allows you to appreciate it/them, and the appreciation of something allows passion to develop.
by Michael Dunningham