After posting my blog post on uncovering your passion for hand lettering, I received this very good question about passion: What does it mean to be passionate about lettering?
“Does it mean you have dedicated years to it? Does it mean you are obsessed? Does it mean it’s the thing that you would rather do more than anything else? Does it mean that it’s simply what puts a little smile in your day? By some of those definitions, I have a passion and by others I don’t.”
What is Passion?
It seems as though passion has been placed on a pedestal as this romantic, unwavering love for something. That’s simply not the case; it’s much more complex. Let’s start by defining what it is first of all:
Passion (n): Any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.
Passion Isn’t Always About Euphoria
French Philosopher, Denis Diderot, further defines and divides passion into four guiding principles:
- Pleasures and pains of the senses
- Pleasures of the mind or of the imagination
- Our perfection or our imperfection of virtues or vices
- Pleasures and pains in the happiness or misfortunes of others
When we think of passion we don’t usually think of “pains,” “imperfection,” or “misfortunes.” It’s easy to think passion is just being about love or pleasure when that’s what so many people play it up to be. However, it’s much more complex than just pleasure. My favorite quote that relates to passion is this:
“Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.” ― Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves
Think about why the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ is referred to as The Passion. He goes through a ton of pain, and ultimately death. It is an event of intense emotions, much of which is pain. He goes through the discomfort in the service of a greater goal of being the salvation of humanity from sin. Through the extensive pain and discomfort, he eventually provides atonement for the sins of humankind, and he’s even resurrected.
Pains Come with the Pleasure
Passion is not all fun and games. Passion is about accepting the pains so you may reach the pleasures. It’s about loving something enough to do it over and over again, and accepting the things about it that you don’t love as much, but must go through.
For lettering, that might look like the resistance of sacrificing time to practice, experiencing creative block, or the frustration of drawing your letters wrong. But, you do so in order to experience the things you do love about lettering, like improving, creating an amazing lettering piece, and sharing your ideas through lettering.
So, what does it mean to be passionate then?
- Does it mean you have dedicated years to it? No.
- Does it mean you need to be obsessed? No.
- Does it mean it is the thing that you would rather do more than anything else? No.
- Does it mean that it’s simply what puts a little smile in your day? No.
There are days when you’ll be obsessed with lettering. There are others when it’s the number one thing you wish to do. And days when lettering brightens up your day. Even with years dedicated towards lettering, there are plenty of days when those criteria are not met. That doesn’t mean you are not passionate, because passion includes a wide range of emotions.
Lettering should evoke strong emotions within you, whether they are joyful or frustrating. You should want to experience the pains of lettering, so that you may experience the joys of lettering. The only thing else that truly makes you passionate is consistency. The consistency in wanting to show up, even when things get rough, is what really makes you passionate.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, subscribe to the newsletter to receive these weekly blog posts on lettering, design, and creativity delivered straight to your inbox! :)