The Failure of Reason, III: The Passionate Chase

In the last post in this series, [Click here for Part 1, if you missed the boat] I used a quote from my field journal about how reason is an inadequate tool for self acceptance, love, and seeking happiness which can all be elusive; Reason is, likewise, not a very good tool for tracking the movements of a mad man either, no, to catch a goon you’ve got to think like a goon.

The title of this article series raises almost as many questions as my articles do, which makes it good philosophy but not a terribly good headline by most accounts. Today, I’m on the trail of passion which is good because I could use the exercise and this room is getting smelly.

I get in the habit of locking myself in-doors to work on my imagined projects and then shaving and personal grooming quickly fall by the wayside as well. My reasons for wanting to edit together a music video, record a song, or write are foggy at best but they wake me up at night to work and get me moving when I’m a shiftless cow.

I’ve spent so much time fighting skepticism in people and the ideologies which foster negative thinking. Take for instance this YouTube video by Mike Rowe from the popular show Dirty Jobs, aptly titled: Don’t Follow Your Passion.

Mike’s video makes perfect sense, to a generation of youth growing up in an increasingly difficult and costly world to get ahead in. he argues that passion can come from things we wouldn’t expect so we should try things that aren’t at the top of our dream jobs list. Rowe makes a good case for adversity being a means to growth and self exploration as well, but the packaging, delivery, and conclusion of his message are filled with pessimism.

Yes, adversity and exploration of avenues are important, but why title the video “Don’t Follow Your Passion?” In Mike’s defense, he does briefly allude to the purpose of the title when he explain how you can lead your passion, rather than be dragged around by it.

This begs the question of whether we really can control everything, like passion? Can we tell ourselves in love “I’m just gonna like these characteristics because there’s more people that have those and my chances of finding that type of person are better” then stick with it, be confident about it, and feel happy about that choice in the long run?

Sure we can force ourselves to accept and even come to like something in time. Monks and prominent spiritual leaders like the Dalai Lama will often attest that we can find Zen or some form of inner peace, maybe even enlightenment doing the dishes or stacking skids. If we can find that amount of peace without listening to our inner calling imagine what would happen if we did.

I think we fail ourselves as a species when we stop striving for our dreams, if we don’t listen to the voice inside it grows quiet. When you practice pessimism,  negativity, hopelessness, and fill your mind with garbage about how impossible everything is a million doors silently close.

Why would I do something that has a high potential of ending in disappointment, or sadness? Why not choose a course in life with highest probability of wealth, belonging, understanding, and comfort? Why take giant risks, why leap in to the unknown, why choose suffering and fear? Because some day that same unknown, the source of all your deepest fears and dreams, will swallow you whole and it’s a much easier ride if you’ve done something to shine a brief light in this world before darkness closes in.




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