I've always been a passionate person; deeply affected by events, people, art, music, God...all my senses alive.
But the last several years, there's a nagging sense of apathy...of not really caring. I'm sure part of it is from depression, and part from fear of yet another disappointment. Perhaps mid-life issues. Whatever...the reasons for it don't really matter.
What's the cure for apathy?
Several days ago I wrote that at the top of a journal page and I've been mulling it over ever since.
A simple definition of apathy is not caring.
There can be a certain peace in apathy. You don't care what people think or if life's not perfect. You can roll with the punches because you didn't have a lot of expectations for how things should be, so it doesn't matter if they get screwed up.
But too much apathy, a life defined by apathy, seems like a sterile life. Safe. Boring. A life lived within fortress walls...very little emotional, psychological, or spiritual investment in anything because nothing really matters that much.
Content with the status quo and always taking the path of least resistance seems to lead to listlessness, purposelessness and meaninglessness. I don't want my weeks to be a bunch of boring days strung together to make purposeless years culminating in a meaningless life.
Don't get me wrong, even when apathetic, people care for family and close friends. But apathy looks at events like the recent devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, drops a few dollars in the bucket at a fundraiser and keeps going on: taxi-ing kids around, watching tv, reading drivel, buying groceries, attending church, and working all without much thought or emotion, engaging only half a mind, half a heart and probably less than half a person.
When I die, will my life be simply a series of days filled with tasks without any other purpose than to do as I please? God forbid it.
So, what's the opposite of apathy? Without consulting a thesaurus, I decided one antonym of apathy, to me, is passion. If apathy is not caring, the opposite isn't simply caring, but passionately living.
I see evidence of passionate living all around me...
After they were married last fall, my nephew & his new bride, instead of the conventional route of getting jobs and "settling down", took off for a six month adventure to New Zealand. Every blog entry, blurb on facebook, and picture radiates living to the fullest; no hint of apathy.
My friend J is running a half marathon to raise money for cancer research. Setting her eyes on a goal, she's striving daily with passion and determination to reach it. No apathy.
Another friend, M is training for a triathlon to honor her mom who passed away last year. No apathy.
About six month's ago, N tearfully shared how apathy almost destroyed her marriage. After work & effort, they have a renewed passion not only for one another, but for life. No apathy.
The M's live, work and minister in Haiti. Living, by choice, in primitive conditions, and witnessing the daily struggle for survival in this 4th world country, apathy plays no part in their lives. Even in the mundane tasks, I see deep passion for the family, friends and community in which they live. No apathy.
My own husband recently started a new business venture. At 50, he's stepping out of his comfort zone and risking because he's passionate about his work and providing for his family. No apathy.
So is the cure for apathy living passionately? Can you choose passion or is it merely an emotion? Or is passion simply a personality trait and if you don't have it you're sunk? Or is passion a series of choices that challenge you to go beyond yourself? Is passion faith? If you know me at all, you know I dislike tips, techniques and prescribed remedies claiming that if you follow them something in your life will be fixed. I believe we're too diverse and complex for overly simplistic "cures". So I'm not willing to tell you the 5 steps I think you should take to rid yourself of apathy. I only know that I want to try to make choices that allow my brain, heart and soul to be challenged and through the challenge, through the adventure, hopefully, go beyond apathy.