“There is no passion in playing small-in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela

“On life's vast ocean diversely we sail. Reasons the card, but passion the gale.” Alexander Pope.

I have a sincere belief that passion—the seeking of it, the pursuit of it, the nurturing of it and the expression of it--- is a large part of what gives a person's life a certain flavor.

Passion denied can be torture. Passion uncontrolled and obsessed over can breed insanity. Passionless is apathy. And, passion forgone in an effort to thwart fear and obtain security can be a literal death.

However, passion recognized, consciously directed and nurtured to a level that benefits not only the impassioned but also inspires passion in others is priceless. That is the golden fruit of life, as far as I'm concerned.

But, what is passion? Let's look it up. According to wikipedia (my old college professors cringe whenever I reference this—thankfully that no longer matters), passion is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something. Interestingly enough, the word itself is derived from the Latin Verb pati meaning to suffer.

Before I get too deeply into this, as the above description shows, passion can (and is) be felt between people or toward a person without reciprocation. That's a relationship flambe' for another day. The type of passion I'm speaking about here is a passion for something. A drive to engage. An inner spark instigated through a certain action, cause or event.

Passion can be both what keeps someone up at night and also has them jumping enthusiastically out of bed in the morning. That “spark” or “fire” causes a visceral reaction in a person.

The heart may skip a beat. Breathing may quicken. Pulse speeds up.

Passion is a trigger of adrenaline. Follow me?

What trips that trigger is as unique to a person as their fingerprint. Isn't that odd? What is an embroiled drive in one person to pursue something can be the equivalent to yawn stimulation in another. And, there are no limits to diversity of quirks a person may have around their own passion.

To me, passion is a fire that demands to be fed. Overfeeding can result in an uncontrolled wildfire that essentially feeds off every aspect of a person's life. Every other possible aspect of a person's being is consumed by the flames be it the pursuit of other interests, career or relationships. The more the passion is fed and allowed to burn uncontrollably, the less in control the person is of their life and more becoming a slave to the passion itself. And yet, in this instance, even with full conscious fueling of the desire, the yearning sense or suffrage of passion, if you will, is never satisfied.

The slave to passion is left without oxygen after a time. Fire does consume oxygen, you know? As well as any type of combustible material.

Passion is the wild and untamed horse of the soul.

The key to the best use of passion is the harnessing of it and conscious, skillful direction--nourishment to a level that is sustainable but not overwhelming or draining. The ability to successfully do this can mean the difference between a sense of satisfaction with life versus a life whose flame burns out tragically and much too early.

The thought of a passionless life scares me. But, the thought of a life emblazoned by passion to the point of radicalism, extremism and non-sensible drive is horrifying. The thought of passion discovered and discarded sounds torturous. The profit and benefit of passion most certainly lies in the balance.

Passion is not lost on youth. This is when the spark typically begins. Unfortunately, wisdom doesn't find us until decades later at which point we've probably already allowed our passions to either destroy us or have completely denied them allowing the fire to be squelched and burn out.

Perhaps the gained wisdom will bring us full circle to re-discovering and re-kindling the passion in a productive way. Or, maybe it will continue to be denied until we meet our desolate and unsatisfied end.

The choice, is largely up to us. Isn't it?