I have written many times about love, but I really believe passion is what makes the world go round. Be it passion in the positive way, that is often related to love, or the opposite, passion fuelled by anger, turning into hatred.
As the year ends, I think of stories of passion unravelling before my eyes. With passion, sooner or later, there comes a companion, and that is pain, heartbreak. For when passion hits is it is so strong that we do no matter what to be with the object of our passion, or whatever we are passionate about; sometimes, we don’t measure the consequences; at others, we do but even so we go ahead, risking all.
Passion for sport
Take my son Afonso’s passion for rugby. It’s given him so many joys, exhilarating moments and the sweet taste of victory, but also the bitter taste of defeat, along with tough moments such as the one he’s going through now; the leg injury he suffered during the last match before Christmas is more serious than we anticipated, so he’ll be operated on in a few days, at the very beginning of the new year. Having a muscle and hamstring rupture a long recovery awaits him, which he will no doubt face with the same courage he has had in previous injuries, all in the name of his passion – going back to the rugby field to play. And I believe this ever-burning flame is what will take him through the hard moments and boost his spirits if or when they begin to falter.
Take an old friend of mine, just turned sixty, an architect, with a brilliant career, a more than comfortable life financially speaking, and a marriage of almost forty years that, like so many others, had turned into a tepid routine. His heart had been dormant for a long time when, all of a sudden, a woman he meets on a business occasion stirs it. Only a few years younger, he finds her so charming, so damningly attractive, so sure of herself but with a touch of sensitiveness that soon has his heart beating faster – and he falls head over heels in love with her, with a passionate kind of love.
His passion reciprocated, he lives through experiences he thought were dead and buried long ago – he feels like a teenager, his heart beats faster when he is about to meet her and when they make love he feels alive again, hot, cold, burning, freezing, but never tepid…
An honest man, straightforward as few I have met, he tells his wife and ends his marriage. If only his love would do the same, but she postpones…she is in a difficult situation, coming from a small town where her husband’s family are like “the lords of the castle“ of ancient times…while he has faced his son and endured his criticism (“you have betrayed Mother”), her children will not accept her leaving her husband, so she is torn apart between this new passion and her other passion, every mother’s passion, in fact…so they are both living passionate moments at one time, and heartbreak at the other, for as much as they believe in their love story at this point no one knows how it will end. Will she have the courage to go forward and leave all, as he did, for her, or will she falter, ponder all the pros and cons and conclude she will not leave her previous life? Maybe the New Year will bring her courage, and I hope so, for I would not see my friend suffer because of this burning passion he feels inside.
The passion of hatred
Then there is another friend who has just told me she plans to leave her husband in the New Year. A truly workaholic scientist and professor, he works every day at different places, universities and laboratories, and has been doing so for years, thus having little time for his family. So far this would be bearable, even if not the best way to live, had she not found out he has been deceiving her for several years, with several women, leading in fact a double life and having secret trysts while pretending to work all the time. The love she bore him has turned into hatred, a hatred that burns with such an intensity that it scares you. She talks incessantly about what she will do to him, how she will take revenge, how her children will turn away from their father and she says all this with a burning fire in her eyes. Whatever she does in the future, from seeking a divorce to trying to begin a new life with her children, she will do it with the intense passion she is now feeling, that I believe will only abate when she is finally free; from him, from jealousy, and most of all from his web of lies.
Not one, but many
As for myself, as this year ends, I do not have an overwhelming passion in my life, but several – less burning but so much more comfortable – ones. At this moment I am quite sceptic about romantic passion – at least as far as I’m concerned – and plan to keep away from it. Too many disappointments. But I keep my other passions alive: that for my sons, a fire that will never extinguish itself, nor would I want it to; that for the people I love, family and friends and those who have proved I can count on them in good and in troubled times; my passion for History, for books, for a sunny day on the beach, for travelling to new places, for my beloved island of Madeira…and, last but not least, my passion for writing, and for that book that hopefully will soon see the light of day, my “third child” as I say, one that I am also truly, deeply passionate about.
I wish you all a Happy New Year with some passion in it. But beware – the gods up in the sky don’t give without taking. You may live a great passion, but it may take you from the highest of mountain to the deepest valley of despair. I would say be cautious, but then all the wonder of it would go away, so I’ll rather say live it to the full, taking as much as you can for, after all, what would life be without the spice that passion brings? From time to time, we must leave behind the tepid waters of our lives and light the burning fire of a great passion. No matter what it takes. When the day of reckoning comes, it will have been worthwhile.