In the Aristotelian rhetorics, passion equals to pathos, a mode of speaking opposed to ethos and logos. Speaking passionately, raising feelings. Listening to a lecture this week, I was suddenly asked how I understand passion, and the question struck me truly.
Passion is not simply knowledge or feeling, it's a way of being in this world wholeheartedly, deeply. I think people of all cultures, walks of life and temperaments can be passionate, their ways of expressing passions just differs. There are shy and quiet Pasionarias, and there are those who talk for hours foam coming from their mouths. There are passionate lovers and passionate miniature railway collectors, passionate gardeners and passionate militarists - what matters is the degree of devotion to one's passion: the long hours devoted to cultivation, the risks, the obstacles, the small pleasures, the sweetness of success after hard work and struggle.
Passion is mostly about faith, and quite much about spirit. It means trusting in the constant emergence of life, walking barefoot and admiring the weakest buds, talking equally to people and flowers, the visible and the invisible. A passionate person is sensitive to the fact that our everyday life consists of endless choices, and that small choices may matter more than big ones. When we breathe well and stop to think for a second before saying possibly catastrophical things, then we are walking on the path of passion. When we are able to focus on the essentials in our lives, when we feel our day hasn't been wasted, but we have done something to build on for tomorrow, then it's probably been a passionate day. And the wonder of waking up to the sound of fairy tinkles in our ears, that's even better.
The Persian poet Rumi's slogan was: "To hear the song of the reed, everything you have ever known must be left behind." These words are my wallpaper, the kind of phrase that translates to me every day in a different way. In relationships it means that you can't build lasting love without having courage to let go of past affairs - and we cannot expect to enter love with too many pieces of unclaimed luggage. In writing and other creative work passion means that every day is a promise, and the reed orchestra plays within only if we allow the unexpected to call in. I don't know much about other arenas, as my biggest passion seems to be writing with love, but my idea of devotion is crystallized in the figure of the swirling dervish: endless circles in the worship of the Beloved.
When the lecturer asked me about passion, all I could answer at that moment was that I understand passion not only as neverending talk but the ability to sometimes remain silent, and the skill to make this busy world quiet down, when necessary. Most people would argue that silencing people is totalitarian, and the end of politics, but I think the most political thing one can do nowadays is to calm oneself and others down, to make us stop running, buying things we don't need, getting hyped in the media, drunk by our own power, uninterested in the powers of others.
Being silent together with others is the biggest intimacy one can think of, the greatest honour you can give to the ones you love. And then, after silence, let's play some music that lifts us up.