Passion and Resilience

My father was not able to finish his law degree. During his third year of law school in the University of the Philippines, he was compelled to go back to Roxas city to take care of my ill grandfather. Having such an unyielding passion for public service, he started to run for mayor. He was able to lead fishermen, tricycle drivers, and many Capizenos towards his ideology: Kung indi kita, sin-o? Kung indi dasun, san-o? (If not us, who? If not now, when?). After months of campaigning, the election day came.

My father had lost.

The night of the election, my older sister came into his study to comfort him. She asked him if he felt bad that he had lost the race. He said, “Why would I be saddened over something that was not mine to begin with? These things happen. It is time to move forward and try again”.

This has always been my sister’s favorite anecdote whenever I asked her about my dad. Since he passed away seven years ago, it’s the story I remember him by. I soon realized how resilience and passion made such an important correlation with each other. These two factors drove my father through months of strenuous campaigning and a fast recovery after he had lost.

Many would argue that choosing passion over practicality is choosing form over function. It is a battle between being idealistic and being pragmatic. It is embodied by the person who chooses to take the risk, the jump, and the leap of faith rather than board a fully-functioning plane towards the other side of the cliff.

To an extent, I do agree that choosing the logical would indeed be the easier, more calculated step of the two. The reasons why people choose what is logical vary. It may be because of instant gratification or validation, financial benefit, or an innate desire to always follow what is rational. However, it all boils down to one question: At the end of it all, do you really feel fulfillment in your work? I know of someone who chose to be realtor because of the faster monetary rewards despite realizing his aspirations of becoming an engineer. Instead of facing the burden of having to spend more time and money for another five years of post-graduate school, he chose to stay in his field, ignoring his frustrations.

Passion does not have to be defined by blind optimism and delusion. Likewise, being idealistic should not be frowned upon. Once, a renowned philosophy professor in the Ateneo said that a man had two choices when he starts to wander aimlessly in his life. Either he resorts to pursuing his old ways, imprisoning himself in his comfort zone, or he takes the leap of faith to pursue his passion and risk dying. Both options include putting oneself in a position wherein he may stagnate, or figuratively, die. If that is the case, he said, then why not take a shot at a life worth living? In his own words, “Kung itataya mo na ang buhay mo, itaya mo na sa kung ano ang magbibigay-buhay sa iyo”.

This is where resilience butts in. How much are you willing to do to pursue your passion? What pain are you willing to endure? And If you fail, are you capable of conquering the obstacle, even if it meant clawing your way back up? If answering these questions demoralize you, then you are not driven by your passion. You are simply irrevocably lazy.

I believe in passion. I believe in the resilience of hard work. These are what motivated my father throughout his life despite the stress, the failures, and the banter of people who cannot see eye to eye with his passion. Now, passion and resilience are what drives me to conquer whatever challenge Fate decides to throw at me.