I’ve always been enthralled by politics. While (at least, to me) all elections hold a certain allure, nothing quite touches the excitement I experience every four years during a Presidential campaign. I grudgingly put up with the negative campaigning and the partisan bickering and the barrage of mean-spirited ads, but what really gets me going is the convention. At the risk of getting too political, I’m talking specifically about the DNC. Yes, I am a Democrat. My party, my people, my platform. And seeing all of my favorite politicos in one spot over a three-day span makes me giddy all over. I promise, that is as partisan as this post is going to get, O.K.?
Because this blog post really isn’t about politics, it’s about passion. Passion is why I love the convention. Not the pomp and circumstance or the gallons of confetti pouring from the ceiling. Passion is the thing.
The best political speeches are infused with it. Gifted orators on stage not just trying to move your mind (or more likely, solidify it, since they’re with their own crowd), but win your heart. They talk about overcoming adversity; about the sacrifices their parents or grandparents made to help them get where they are today; about the better world they want to leave behind for their kids.
They tell stories of hope, of optimism, or survival, of triumph, all wrapped up in the American dream. And for those three days, I choose to put cynicism aside and believe that the cause and the candidate they’re championing is something they passionately believe in. And I allow myself to dream, too. For me, political conventions are passion fests.
Truth be told, we could use a little more passion in the world. Particularly in a town like Los Angeles, where people wear their too-cool, disaffectedness like a badge of honor. Sometimes it seems that people are so busy trying to fit a certain image of what they think other people want them to be – trying to be ‘unique’ and stand out, trying too hard to be liked/loved/adored, trying too hard to impress – that it all melds together in a depressing mix of fakery and disconnectedness.
I don’t mean to bag on the town that has been my home since I was 18 years old. But I guess you can take the girl out of the Pacific Northwest but you’ll never take it out of her because I still desperately crave that warmth, and kindness and humanity and genuineness that I find everywhere there and so scarcely here. The number of people I encounter on a daily basis sleepwalking through their goddamn lives being noncommittal and too cool and aloof and claiming to love their art, but not doing anything to back it up other than criticizing and tearing down other people . . . it just makes me want to scream.
It’s because I detest apathy. Mostly because I don’t believe it. It’s a cover. If I don’t try very hard or I pretend like I don’t really care about something, then I won’t be invested in the outcome and I won’t be disappointed or feel like a failure when the thing I really want doesn’t happen. Apathy is much easier. It’s easier to shrug your shoulders and be dismissive of your own heart’s desire, rather than admit what you really want out of life and then do everything you can, passionately, to try to live that way.
Apathy is a goddamn lie. Of course we care. We care a great deal. If we didn’t care about anything, we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning.
So what is it? What is it? What is the thing that lights you from the inside, that gets you up in the morning, that steals your focus when you’re working on some boring, mundane task that you’d rather not be doing?
I’m asking you (more like begging you) to make like those politicos at tonight’s convention and speak your passion. Live it. For god’s sake, believe in something. Be an advocate. Be a champion. Care too much. Wear your heart on your sleeve.
Because passion is contagious. Impassioned people change the people they’re around. They change the world. They change the shape of history.
Not one person ever achieved greatness through indifference.
Until next time, friends