My birthday is Thursday. 48. (A whole host of blog posts could be written about that alone!)
Serendipitously, last year I was also in the middle of Passion week for my 47th. What I did, some of you may recall, is write a list of 47 things that I am passionate about. You can check that list out here. So as I am approaching Thursday I thought, perhaps I should revisit that list. I thought I might re-post it, add another item and get present again to the things I am “passionate about” but the problem is it really isn’t that easy.
Actually writing the list was really hard. When I first started I couldn’t figure out what to put on it. As I told you yesterday, when I am satisfied with my information about things my passion really begins to wane. Take those leafy sea dragons, which made it to number 38 on my list. When ever we make it to an aquarium I spend a great deal of time watching them and their cousins the weedy sea dragons. They are easily “my favorites” but what had me say I was PASSIONATE about them?
On the day I put them on my list, I had read an account of how much their numbers are in decline because the kelp forest in which they live is being compromised by Australian coastal development. The same issues are causing problems for sea otters along the California coast. I get easily outraged when I glimpse human short sightedness and on that day outrage was mistaken for passion. Not that I couldn’t be passionate about the sea dragons, but if the truth is to be told I am not. I like them. I want to share the planet them. I could become passionate about them but so far I really am not.
As I think about this, it brings my entire experience of passion into question. I feel like I could be passionate about everything on that list. They are things that concern and interest me, however I have placed some type of limit to my expression. To be fully and totally passionate about something suggests a reckless abandon that I have been unwilling to broach.
Those of you following along on the Facebook page will recognize this quote:
I will cover you with love when next I see you, with caresses, with ecstasy. I want to gorge you with all the joys of the flesh, so that you faint and die. I want you to be amazed by me, and to confess to yourself that you had never even dreamed of such transports…. When you are old, I want you to recall those few hours, I want your dry bones to quiver with joy when you think of them.
~Gustave Flaubert, letter to wife Louise Colet, 15 August 1846
I have visited this quote often. When I read it I am clear that Flaubert allowed himself to play fully in the depths of passion. He marched in boldly, unencumbered by fear or caution. When I consider what it might mean for me to experience the same intensity, I immediately feel myself pull back. Would it actually be possible to lose myself in passion? What would this mean to the rest of my life?
“We all need to look into the dark side of our nature – that’s where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we’re busy denying.” ~ Sue Grafton
Yes! That’s it! Somehow I believe that if I should delve deeply into passion I would come face to face with some part of myself I have been denying for years. I LOVE many things. Fairly and safely said, I LOVE everything on that list I wrote last year but passionate I am not.
My mentor Ben Franklin said, “If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” and I think perhaps I have allowed reasonableness to keep my passion in check. It isn’t an unsound strategy. Success in the material world often requires reasonable choices but what might be possible if passion were occasionally allowed first billing?
And this is where I jump into the unknown. As my birthday looms I consider inviting passion in ways I have previously feared. I’ll let you know what happens!
How often have you given passion first billing? Did you feel like reason was needed to temper the experience or were you able to go wildly with reckless abandon? Are you willing to try?