On the Nature of Passion

June 30, 2008

This was actually a tangent I went off on while writing my other blog…but I figured it deserved to be it’s own little piece…that and it didn’t really make sense being stuck in the middle of the other one)

Why do we feel ashamed to crave beauty? Why should we expect anything less in lovemaking? Perhaps it is the confusion that to crave passion in life is somehow immoral. Many may come to this conclusion from the roots of their religious upbringing. I know several people who feel ashamed to talk about not only their secret passions in life, but their erotic passion as well. The more I work at accepting my nature, the more I try to link my early, child-like spirituality with my passions. If you have been reading my blogs, you know that I have discussed my intense spirituality as a child, which came about without having the influence of church attendance or anything else. Then, as I got older, I fell into an extreme version of spirituality, one that punishes and labels basic human nature, specifically the idea of Eros, as sinful and immoral. Deep down, I always knew that something did not add up – that the younger spirituality and love for God, the Angels, and even Jesus, was purer and conducive with my basic human sexual nature than that which I was taught in the Evangelical society.

Thomas Moore writes in his book The Soul of Sex: “All figures of history, but none more so than Jesus, are transformed by the imagination of those who come after them.” Here is another example of the idea that the imagination creates, in this case, a potentially harmful reality, following and practice. He continues:

In spite of themselves they become objects of mythic imagination. There are by now countless images of Jesus, each defended strongly and often anxiously, and among them is the Dionysian Jesus espoused by … Jung. This is the Jesus drunk on life, inebriated by vitality, and able to live with an intensity inaccessible to most. This Jesus knows the secret … that sex thrives in the air of friendship. Eros and philia, lust and intimacy, can feed each other, resulting in the stimulating and creative paradoxes of erotic chastity that characterizes the Jesus of the Gospels. Later, of course, Christianity would lose this creative, humane sexuality and become preoccupied with [suppression] (71-72).

I could go on for ages about this. I remember constantly struggling with my own nature and the ideals that were presented, not just by my time involved in the church, but also in general, by society. I have to keep asking myself why I continue to struggle with my own passion? I am learning to take joy in my own voice: because it is mine; because it is no one else’s — but I still have these hang-ups from time to time. My friend was joking the other night saying, “Everything is about sex for Shannon – even Sumo-resting is about sex!” In response to this, I’d like to add something Rilke wrote: “And in fact artistic experience lies too incredibly close to that of sex, to its pain and its ecstasy, that the two manifestations are indeed but different forms of one and the same yearning and delight. And if instead of ‘living and writing in heat’ one might say—sex, sex in the great, broad, clean sense, free of any insinuation of ecclesiastical error, then art would be very grand and infinitely important.”

As far as every day passion in life, not just in the bedroom, it seems a great number of people are content to settle. They lack passion in their lives because they don’t believe they deserve it; even if they do, they tend to stay steadfast on the path of safety — of least resistance — because at least here they have control. It is a control rooted in dissatisfaction that holds fast to fear of failure and disappointment: if we never allow our soul to desire, to seek the noblest, we avoid the risk of being crushed. However, coming back to the origin of things beginning in the imagination – if we never dare to imagine what we want for our lives, we will never have the chance to live out our personal desire’s destiny.

In order for something to grow, we need to tend to it, care for it, feed it, and nurture it daily. If we neglect desire, if we smother its mouth and hide it away in the recesses of memory, it will drain daily from our lives; we will see the edges turn brown and like a room with a dying plant, desire’s oxygen will dissipate until we are left breathing resentment and disappointment – looking constantly toward the window at the rain, wondering why so many storms pass over desire’s once fruitful home. It is then our hearts ache; it is then we seek distraction and depression can easily slip inside the back door.

I don’t know. I feel like a strange person sometimes…I feel like I have nowhere to place my passion. It’s this trail that follows me around and I want to gather it up like a bouquet of wild flowers and give them to someone. I feel like I have too many god damn flowers. And they are useless on my mantel…beautiful, yes. But useless. I can take one down and turn it into a poem or chew on it a while, feel my brain tingling, talk to a group of friends and pass them out, pull one out of my pocket, sometimes, and send it off to someone who might need it. But that’s not good enough. Because they need sunlight – I need sunlight. I can write about everything, but still, words prove only to be tiny doors. Or cracks in tiny doors. See? Sometimes I slip off my dress, stand in the middle of the room, and…wonder what to do with all these damn flowers.

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