Thursday, February 24, 2011

On Passion

In the novel Brave New World, Bernard, a stunted, recalcitrant member of the alpha class, laments his decision to bed his luscious co-worker Lenina.  This is a predicament, mind you, that not many men would mind having, but Bernard inhabits a world in which people are conditioned from childhood to conform.  Everyone belongs to everyone in Bernard's world.  Independence and ambition are scorned, whereas immediate gratification is encouraged and any unpleasant emotions suppressed by drug use.  All in the name of maintaining a base of happy workers.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Bernard confesses his thoughts to Lenina the following afternoon in a tirade against the conditioning, the programming, they've experienced all their lives.  "'I want to know what passion is,' she heard him saying.  'I want to feel something strongly.'"

Let me ask you this, in light of this literary reference: have you felt like you've programmed yourself to run?  Like the passion is gone, leaving nothing to do but stumble about South Jersey like a drugged up automaton in a brave new world?  I find myself going into this marathon next month with a distinct lack of passion, and it's killing me.  I'm not even signed up yet, because after so many lackluster runs this winter, I don't even know if I can complete a marathon at this point without hurting myself.  I couldn't even get myself out the door tonight.  I ate Chinese food instead.

My favorite marathon quote: "If people were possessed by reason, running marathons would not work.  But we are not creatures of reason.  We are creatures of passion." - Noel Carroll

I have felt passion countless times in my life, most notably last fall when I concentrated every fiber of my being into qualifying for Boston and watched it pay off.  Is it wrong to expect passion with each footfall, each fleeting strike of the pavement?  Is it wrong to assume the passion is gone in the middle of a dull stretch of winter?  Should I stop reading Aldous Huxley?


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