The Soul’s Passion
In my clinical work one of the things I do in the first session with a new client is ask the question, “What are you passionate about?” Over the years I have become quite amazed at the number of people who respond to the question with “Nothing.” I will usually follow up with “Is there anything you do that when you awaken you say, ‘Great, I get to do it today?’ ” Usually, people again respond with words to the effect of “Not anymore. I used to paint but there just isn’t time.” This sort of passionless living is a great way to set one’s self up for depression.
The Soul thrives where passion is felt. Passion is to the Soul what water is to plant life. Without passion the Soul withers, shrivels and may even die. The Soul needs time when we drop the normal concerns of life and go “all in.” Passion lifts us out of the hectic life often driven by ambition. Passion is an important way we stand outside of our usual experience. Passion relieves us of the need to achieve or accomplish anything.
There are many examples of responding to passion such as listening to the call to write. It is doubtful that any of us is going to write a New York Times best seller but many people write because they wish to honor the call to write. It is also unlikely that any of us will paint water lilies like Monet but sometimes the canvas calls and we can do little else. It is equally doubtful that any of us will become professional golfers but those who enjoy playing tell me that the challenge of making a really good shot is at times a moment of pure joy. Moments when we hear the call of whatever passion arises often spread. A Sunday spent listening the call often fuels other activities on Monday. Every moment does not have to involve these callings but when they are headed the soulful energy spreads. And we can experience ourselves as more alive and vibrant in the rest of our lives.
It is, I believe, a myth that we must live in passion all the time. Some things are just rather mundane and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. These moments do not have to change or be cajoled into being something they are not. But it is necessary to have times of passion which carry us through routine times. A day painting soothes and energizes the Soul so life in the other times feels more vibrant and full.
Many voices caution us and urge us to turn away from passion. “It is selfish.” “You could get hurt.” “You are fooling yourself, you will never be able to paint well.” Voices both internal and external urge us back to normalcy, responsible living and rational thinking. This is part of why so many people are depressed to the point of taking antidepressants.
The times when I have listened to my passions are the times that fuel everything else. Breaking the rules of stultifying normal life and convention means stepping into the unknown. In those moments my Soul comes alive.
About ten years ago, I fell in love with the Quinapoxet River which was near my home. I went to it nearly every Sunday morning for almost three years. I got up at dawn, put on hiking shoes or boots for wading through the water and went. I did not care what else I had to do. Often I went because I had so much to do. I did not care about the weather. After all I would neither rust nor melt in the rain. And the river in a blizzard is a magnificent experience. The only agenda was to be there, to be fully totally present to the river and only the river. I did not go to discover anything and I discovered a universe. I did not go to find inner peace but that is what emerged. The passion to be there called me back again and again in totally irresistible ways. In following this passion my Soul emerged more than at any previous time in my life.
I don’t go there as much anymore. Its time has passed. But the gifts I received from following this passion are now central to who I am. It is a passion that continues to serve me to this day.
The Soul dances with joy when we are passionate. It blossoms when we respond to its call and bursts forth in its full power.