May 17, 2012

Looking for Passion in the Tangles of Life.

Don’t tell me to seek equanimity. I’m practicing the yoga of passion!

“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die discover that I had not lived.”

—Henry David Thoreau

Passion is what makes life worth living. Or that’s been my take on it anyway.

It’s interesting, because the Latin root of passion means “suffering, enduring,” which isn’t at all what I’m after. The meaning was later expanded to include “strong emotion.”

It’s the last bit that connects with me. Passion = strong emotion. The neurological receptors in my brain connect passion with being fully alive and living with great meaning.

It might have something to do with my romantic identification with the hero—the honorable warrior who lives with full integrity and dedicates his life to saving the world from immanent destruction. You have to be pretty passionate to do that.

Perhaps I’ve read too many fantasy books and watched too many movies. However, let’s look to my youth for a clue. I wrote this little poem around the time when my teen years turned into twenties:

At least some inspiration,
Stumbling through the night,
Wandering, without mission,
Has broken my stare
With its fleeting, flirting eye,
And brought some
To my blood.

This poem tells me I have been seeking passion for a lifetime.

It’s not that I’ve lived without passion. No. Far from it. It’s simply that I long somewhat obsessively for a fully lived life. I want to feel deeply and be surrounded by people who are fueled by a passion for life.

And I don’t always feel that way. In fact, my familiarity with depression and total lack of inspiration is somewhat unsettling. There are times when I look around and wonder, “What the f*ck am I doing here? What’s the point?!” These are the times that I dislike the most.

In some part of my mind, I believe that because I’m an accomplished business woman, yoga instructor and author—and particularly the simple fact that I’ve survived this long, which was questionable at times—that I should have all this under control. I should be able to bring myself to focus and be present and radiate peace and love and light, which is surely what I need to do in order to save the world.

And I do. Sometimes.

But then there’s the anger and the impatience and the little girl inside who wants a grand adventure and a life that has more to do with magic than trying to figure out how to come up with the money to cover the cost of living. There’s that part of me that gets pissed off at the state of the world and downright scared about what it might be like to have kids, and so decides it would probably be better to just not think about having them.

I guess that’s passion. They’re strong feelings, anyway.

It’s the times where I just don’t care that bother me the most. That’s usually when I turn to fiction or other distractions to carry me off to an altered state of reality or la la land, whatever’s closer. It’s the escape impulse that says “Let’s just check out for a bit, ‘cause this here is messed up.”

It’s a good thing I’ve got my yoga practice. That grounds me, moves the energy, and helps me “reset” my moods. It brings me back to the present when I’d rather be in fantasy world.

Perhaps this makes me sound like I’m volatile and have a poor outlook on life. I don’t, really. I’m actually smiling most of the time, especially when I’m around others. I teach wonderfully, even if I’ve been wallowing in emotional confusion before I head to class. And I think it’s because I care so much that I ride the big waves when I could be floating in the swells.

But it’s the honest truth that I’m riding the waves of life seeking passion.

Some spiritual traditions teach you to be dispassionate. Let go of emotion, let go of attachment, let go of the ups and downs. And that might be okay for some people. It’s surely a more even-tempered way to live.

I don’t want to live with an even temper. I want to feel my heart nearly bursting with joy or drowning in sorrow. I want to feel the infinite vastness of awe and the searing anger of injustice. I want to know each spontaneous twist that life takes with the intimacy of a lover.

Peace can be found within all of these feelings. That’s the yoga—cultivating contentment even in the extremes of highs and lows—penetrating each moment to see the part of God that it’s showing me.

I was born to live with passion in my blood, because this tells me that life holds meaning and that I am participating to my fullest extent. It does not need to be suffering, for I can flow with it—I can feel deeply and also let go. But in that flow of feelings and experiences may I be gifted such a wondrous adventure that I live the kind of life from which legends are made!

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