Hmmmm, what passion feels like, what it sounds like. I read the above quote in a recent David Brooks op-ed piece in the New York Times and it impressed me. Having been a passionate, outspoken individual since I was about nineteen years old I thought about Lady GaGa and her early music. I went back to the Brooks article several times trying to understand why it had such an effect on me. He declares that "some people are seized....with a fierce longing." That "they often have a fervent curiosity about their inner natures and an unquenchable thirst to find some activity that they can pursue wholeheartedly." He goes on to state "a life of passion happens when an emotional nature meets a consuming vocation." Also, that those people "are marked with high levels of both vulnerability and courage." It hit home in a deeply personal way.
I was largely a shy, neglected child. Unlike GaGa, I did not find my passion until my early thirties with the discovery of photography. And even then putting my passion on hold due to a lack of confidence plus two small children who needed my love and attention. At around fifty seven years of age I found it again. Since that time I have poured my heart and soul into the creative endeavor called art photography. I travelled and pursued my creativity with gusto. Still, I couldn't quite get to the very core of what I was doing. I found my work lacking in a sense. While technically proficient and compositionally adequate I felt something missing. I hadn't the courage to "dig down and play with my issues." I certainly had not exhibited the "courage to be myself with abandon" as Brooks states of GaGa.
Interestingly, I have been a GaGa fan from an early point in her career. I never examined why or what drew me to her. I only knew she was fearless and brave. These very words are used by her when speaking of herself and by Brooks when speaking of her. She has a willingness to "put her imperfect self out there into the public view" and not care whether anyone will approve. Lately, the last year or so, I have been privately pursuing some creative interests that throw caution to the wind. Not caring whether others approve. It is very freeing. Telling oneself to - just do it - play, have fun!
At the end of the article Brooks asks, "who would you be and what would you do if you weren't afraid?" I think I know the answer. I'd be me and I'd dig down as deeply as I could possibly dig. I have a mentor who suggested (two years ago) that I photograph what interests a sixty five year old woman. And that is what I have been doing! Thank you GaGa and David Brooks. Who'd have thought the two of you could have influenced me in such a way.