(About a 5 minute read)
“Some people die at 25, and aren’t buried until 75.” — Anonymous, but often attributed to Benjamin Franklin.
Of course, people have a right to live their lives as they wish, so long as they do not interfere with the rights of others to do the same. Still, it is interesting to observe the choices they make, and the consequences of those choices.
For instance, I think many of us choose, perhaps at relatively young ages, to go through life without truly living. We have neither love nor the passion it brings, having erected psychological barriers against those things.
We might go to school, graduate, find work, get married, get promoted, have kids, and so forth, but we are shells. We are not living as fully as we could.
Curious things happen when we do that.
Above all else, we tend to substitute things for our missing love and passion. For example, we might become extremely sentimental. When you look at it, sentimentality is a form of clinging to emotions. When we’re being sentimental, we tend to spend more time trying to mentally relive our emotions, than we spend actually feeling them.
There seems to be a whole, probably multi-billion dollar, industry dedicated to helping us do that. So much of it seems to be dedicated to reliving our childhoods.
A second curious substitution is that of intense enthusiasms and emotions for genuine love and passion. Genuine passion, like love, can be quiet, understated. In the sense that the water in a river and its current are two different things, passion is like the current. It’s what carries life along, and it can do so swiftly or lazily.
But when we substitute emotions for passion, we tend to do everything we can to punch up the emotions. There is a subtle difference between getting excited at a ballgame and milking any excitement we feel for all it can be milked. When we do that, not occasionally, but almost always, then perhaps we are trying to compensate for something missing in our lives.
Today, one of the most popular — and I believe, ludicrous — substitution of emotions for passion is found in politics. You can in part tell when someone is doing this because they treat politics like it was a sport — with only whether their own team is winning being of concern to them.
In such cases, the first thing out the door is truth, closely followed by one’s true political interests. In the door come such absurdities as blind partisanship, assumed superiority, judgementalism and condemnation, demonization of the opposition, willful stupidity, thoughtlessness, and disregard for the likely outcomes of things.
All of that gives free reign to intense — but usually negative and cheap — emotions like gratuitous outrage, irrational hatred, underlying and motivating fear, and abiding resentment. To many of us, these things are passion — which I believe only goes to show how long ago and early in life we gave up feeling truly passionate about most anything. So long ago, we’ve forgotten what it is.
It needn’t be politics, though. Folks can sometimes surprise us with what they will pick for an object of their emotions. No doubt some art connoisseurs are this very minute feeling gratuitous outrage over some new experiment in painting.
In my opinion, pleasures are by far the most popular substitute for love. Of course, there are thousands of things people take pleasure in. Some are innocuous and some destructive. Although too much pleasure seems to dull us, there’s nothing wrong with taking innocent pleasure in something. I merely find it interesting that, so far as I know, it can serve some of us as a substitute for love.
As I see it, people have a right to do as they want in this area. It does not — at least in principle — hurt anyone if some of us live loveless and passionless lives, and want or choose to. I have sometimes come across someone who wasn’t aware of having chosen to live that way, however, when they erected so many barriers within themselves to love. But that’s another matter.