Passion is corporal. Physical. It’s from the groin, it tingles in your fingers and all over your skin. It is an experience.
Purpose, on the other hand, is beneath all that which senses and feels and tingles. It is of the soul, of the unconscious. It is a constant.
How can I tell if I’m following my passion or my purpose?
Passion is of the ego. It is temporary. It, like the seasons, can change. Passion has the risk of clouding the mind, of blinding. It’s like having the sun shine directly into your eyes – yes, you feel ‘alive’ and lifted and glowing but you are alone in the experience. Alone and blinded. Passion is a completely and utterly self-indulgent and narcissistic concept that has no regard whatsoever for the person it comes up through, or the people who happen to be around them. It is more me me me than we we we and its sole intent is to distract from the fact that we are all connected – whether we like it or not – to one another and to all beings and therefore have a responsibility to one another. A responsibility to serve and uplift.
Purpose, on the other hand, does not think about you. It is collective, it is binding not blinding. It brings together and does not pull apart. Purpose is about others. It is about service, of giving. It comes through you rather than from you. Your attention is not on ‘how can I make my fingers tingle today’ but how can I use my human experience here on earth to make the fingers of other people tingle. Purpose is stable. It does not rely on outside experience to energise and move it. It knows itself. It is quiet. It is still. Purpose is not for the faint-hearted. Purpose is not for the meek. To let go of all of the modern-day notions of ‘self-happiness’ requires a strength of character that most people will not be able to fathom. Purpose is on a realm so high that even the most elated of elations won’t be able to reach it. Its roots are so deep that the deepest of passions won’t be able to dive down to it.
But passion is so accessible and fun and exciting!
Of course passion is easily-accessible. If you are a human being with access to most of your senses, there are literally millions of sources of inspiration everyday that can ignite passion within you. The lyrics to a song, the feeling of the water on your toes, the taste of peanut-butter/choc ice-cream from Messinas on your tongue, the news of Drake coming out in concert again in November. But again, these are sensory experiences that come and go. They go. They end. They pass.
And of course your purpose at first is difficult to come to terms with. Of course it is difficult to put aside all of those motivational quotes that tell you ‘you can have it all’ and to focus instead on your greater vision, the greater meaning for your being here. Of course it is difficult in a world of advertising and billboards and Apples and sales and more sales, to not feel that you constantly need to be excited and hungry and self-motivated and to instead put your focus on the Other.
And of course, if you were to put the two P’s in a room together, passion is most likely to get your attention. Passion commands attention. It is the one adorned in colourful robes with nails as long as Barbara Streisand and a voice as loud as a Geordie Shore cast member. It is the one constantly coming up to you wanting you to ‘have another drink’ and ‘live a little’ and then hands you a microphone and asks you to join it in a karaoke duet of ‘Islands in the Stream’. Passion is a persuasive mother fucker.
Purpose on the other hand. It is the one dressed in a cardigan and Kumfs, who’s brought along with it a pot of hot chamomile and a couple of Arrowroot biscuits. It is happy to sit in the corner and ‘do them’. It watches you as you struggle to hit Dolly’s high note but knows that you’ll come to eventually (to them, not to the note. They know you’ll never come to the note. That you’ll never hit it. After all, it is Dolly’s note to hit, not yours.) Purpose sits in a quiet confidence because it knows that when it’s all said and done, a hot cup of chamomile trumps all.
You make purpose sound imprisoning and quite boring actually.
You mistake imprisonment for knowing and boredom for contentment. Yes, there is excitement and ‘life’ in being on a raging party boat in Ibiza in July. But there is a freedom in floating on your back on the expansive blue sea. This is the difference. Passion is busy and distracted and confined to circumstantial conditions. Purpose is quiet and calm and cannot be contained.
Not all that shimmers is gold. It may appear exciting and you may feel passion for it, but how deep does that well run? To which ends of your body does that excitement reach? You see, the senses are limited. Your soul is not. Excitement is temporary. Contentment is not. Passion is conditional. Purpose is not.
What’s the danger of following passion instead of purpose?
Passion is cheeky. It gives you false hope that you are being brave and embracing life. When the real bravery comes from putting aside all that makes you feel good to focus instead on your higher calling. Is this to say that the opposite of passion is misery and self-deprecation? Quite the contrary. The great thing with living in purpose, is that you will find in it there more passion than you ever thought possible. You think the passion and excitement that you self-generate feels good? How about trying the passion that comes as a result of knowing you’re living your purpose and living in the pocket of yourself, in your truth? That is a passion that most human beings will not feel even a tinge of in their lifetimes.
If you constantly seek that which you are passionate about, you will find yourself seeking forever. For just as the seasons change, so do passions. You may love topiary one day but then car racing the next. And what happens when you’ve followed all the passions in the world? You find yourself back at the front gates of the amusement park, desperately scrounging around for loose coins on the ground in order to be able to purchase a new booklet of ride vouchers.
Passion to Purpose is what a What is to a How. You can What all you like but if you don’t know the How that underpins all your What-ting, then your What-ing (the activities, hobbies, conversations, passions) will all be done in vain and you’ll find yourself empty and unfulfilled and clutching at straws hoping that you’ll one day pull out a long one; one long enough to hold your attention. Purpose doesn’t clutch at anything. It doesn’t have to. It knows that whichever straw is pulled out – be it short or long – it was never about the straws in the first place.
So how do I follow my purpose? How do I find it?
First of all, get over the idea that everything needs to move and excite you. That’s just not the case.
Then, maybe try and sit still for a minute (or 20) and allow yourself a space free from mind voices and outside voices and Kardashian voices and then maybe in that silence, something will come up for you. Maybe there’ll be a whisper or a scream or a Dolly Parton. And maybe those sounds will reveal that which you really already know but have been too scared to face up to; that all that we think is meaningful is actually meaningless and that at the end of it all, we are all islands in the stream, with noone in between. We are eternally connected and our greatest joy will come when we are in service to that connection.
Probably the greatest thing about purpose is that you don’t have to find it. It finds you. There is no Time Out Best Purposes in the Inner City Guide or Trip Advisor reviews on the Top 10 Life Purposes to sift through. It is not a collective decision, a fad; it is not a social-media driven trend or popular opinion…it is a universal, timeless, mutli-lingual, multi-national agreement between that which we call God or Source or Soul and you.
Allow yourself a break from passion. Stop searching. Take a seat, drink your tea, and wait for the call.
Note: Nisrine, the writer of this piece, loves Drake and Messina ice-cream and does not for a second advocate for the removal of these things from one’s life. She is simply saying that you’ll love them both a lot better if you consume them with your eyes open.