In Greek, the word “passion” means to suffer. The problem I’ve seen in so many lost individuals is that once the suffering starts, they give up, make excuses, and say, “This isn’t for me.” Without even getting past the learning curve or reaching a level of competence they assume that “This new thing I tried” just isn’t their cup of tea. Well, how do you know that if you haven’t reached a level of competence? Let’s break this down.
Let’s say you’re interested in fighting games, and so you buy one and start doing the easy things like learning combos, which you thought was the hardest part about fighting games, then you go online and you can win against other beginners, but against solid veterans, you get absolutely destroyed. You’re not even playing the same game, you have no idea what they did, but more importantly, why they did it. They are playing mind games with you and you don’t even realize it, and you don’t know how to do the same thing back. There’s so many fundamentals you’re lacking, that take a lot of time to master, and before you know it you’re either finding a new fighting game or a new genre altogether. This is probably the most common thing that happens within fighting games, but this applies to just about every hobby worth mastering.
I’ve had a handful of hobbies over the years and still practice them to this day. I’ve done tricks on a BMX bike for over ten years, I’ve played piano for over eight years, I played fighting games for over eight years, I’ve written for over seven years, and I’ve even played World of Warcraft arena most of my life and achieved a 2k rating in two brackets while doing everything else. Hard work is a prerequisite for passion, and I’ve learned this by practicing all of these hobbies, maintaining discipline, and making sacrifices. I personally didn’t enjoy any of those hobbies during the learning curve, but once I reached a level of competence they turned into passions.
Fighting games were one of the most frustrating and challenging things I’ve ever done because not only did I have to deal with everything I mentioned earlier, but there’s already a stigma attached to gaming, although my father was never that simple minded and I’m grateful for that, but I also had to completely change the way I thought. Ineffective thinking patterns like, “That’s cheap” or “That’s OP” had to change into something more like, “How do I counter that?” As a consequence, strategies like zoning were now appreciated by me instead of hated. When people pick top tier characters I think, “That’s who this person is using, what do I know about the matchup?” Complaining all day does nothing, but keep you paralized by analysis, instead of solving the problem at hand. That took about a year for me to realize, some sooner than others, but it was a long journey that I’m still on to this day. You learn to love learning as you mature as a player, and you see the game as a whole instead of having tunnel vision thinking what’s on the surface is all there is to master.
I think the main difference between a passionate person and the average person is discipline and sacrifice. I’ve been around both, and the average person is always looking for an excuse to fail, while the passionate one is putting in the work. The passionate one sees obstacles as learning opportunities. The passionate one runs into the fire, not afraid to fail. I asked my father some questions and he replied with in-depth answers as I expected he would. I chose him for a reason, and the next paragraph will speak for itself.
My father’s name is Anthony Stuart, and at age seven he was diagnosed with Perthes disease, a disorder where the blood supply is interrupted to the head of the femur. He’s had multiple hip surgeries and has a titanium femur. He told me he remembers walking out of the doctor’s office and seeing his mother cry in the car while he was waiting to get in. She told him that she’d buy him the best drum set she could, and while he doesn’t remember playing drums for the first time or learning how to read sheet music, he must’ve been interested in drums already.
That same year he learned about the band KISS and the drummer Peter Criss. He went on to say he’s always been over passionate and that he’s always lived in music, even to this day. He never knew why music affected him more than others, and music also served as an escape from childhood trauma and an extremely hard life. He was told that he’d never be able to ride a bike or be “normal” so a newfound source of motivation was born. He started riding motorcycles and pushed everything he did to the limit, knowing that he was on a timer, a ticking time bomb that determined when he would no longer be able to do most physical hobbies. He was talented in everything he did because when you’re forged in fire, the only way to kill the demons is to immerse yourself as you achieve mastery over passions. Because of this, discipline and sacrifice was second nature to him, he didn’t even realize he was doing it because, for him, passions saved his life and gave him a reason to keep pushing forward.
He’s gone through, as a child, some of the worst things a human can go through, and he didn’t let his childhood trauma define him. He expressed gratitude towards his parents for letting him do something so dangerous, like riding dirtbikes with a worsening condition, and he returned the favor to me by allowing me to be in martial arts, skateboard, and BMX. Unlike me, he’s the exception to the rule. Sometimes sheer will, will transform into passion, and mature that passion quickly. He was passionate about his hobbies from the beginning. His passions have only grown and since his childhood he’s found more passions like Formula One racing, his career, his family, and much more.
My father is the hardest working person I’ve ever met, so his response to the next question wasn’t a surprise in the slightest. I asked him, “What do you think about the Greek definition of passion that means ‘to suffer’? He responded with, “I think there couldn’t be a more accurate definition! Even if your favorite whomever has a rival, you still love to hate him.” The last question I asked him was, “What have your passions taught you over time and how/or are you grateful that you found them?” His response was, “Absolutely grateful because they are mine. Nobody else can take them from me and I keep them very personal. Again, they are my solace. Not sure if they taught me anything because they are the exact same as when I was seven. Maybe because I’m older now I realize passion has no age or discrimination.” Needless to say, it is a powerful story from an exceptional human being. He’s only grown as a person, and still continues to grow by learning from his mistakes and holding himself accountable. He has the right to make excuses, yet doesn’t.
I think his story shows what it takes to pursue mastery over passions, and the obstacles he’s had to face while doing so, dwarfs my obstacles in comparison. A stigma around video games? Having to look up guides, written for beginners, study frame data, learning a hard trick, learning a hard song? All of that is nothing compared to what he had to go through and it’s a privilege that I was able to pursue all of my hobbies with good health, more than enough food on the table, a roof over my head, and caring parents that bought everything for me so I could pursue what would become passions in the future, after hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.
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