Even when not degraded, passion gets idealised by the moralistic or romanticised by the artistic. The moralistic do not allow passion its flaw, and failure, its darkness and hurting. The artistic fail to convey just how impossible and rare it is, but ‘glamorise’ its tumults and trials because the person is not having to live them from the heart– but is imagining them in the soul, and confusing that with the high cost of real action. Passion is action that springs from the heart’s raw encounter with reality. I used to know a philosopher who spoke of ‘depth’ repeatedly, but always romanticised its terribleness, so that the harshness was filtered out. Romanticism makes ‘hard’ things attractive, even appealing.. In fact, there is a true beauty in the nakedness and ugliness of passion, but only for those who relate to existence from the heart. This is a very different beauty.. It may break our heart to behold it– and do we want our heart broken? We absolutely do not, if we are honest. How many of us can unflinchingly behold Christ nailed to the Cross, undone as we are, or Van Gogh in the reversed perspective cornfields of his suicide? When it comes to the heart manifest in genuine ‘action’, most people cannot see what is right in front of them.

All these distortions of passion equally betray its gravity. Only the heart in us knows what it is to have to be real toward what is real. This is a wound, a weight, a cost, a patient bearing and enduring of the unbearable and unendurable..

Passion is not idealistically perfect and invulnerable, not romantically marvellous and exciting, not narcissistically exaggerated and glorious, not erotic yearning, not achievement motivation, not zealot intolerance.