passionate obligations

Photo by Roman Bintang on Unsplash

unpolished thoughts 3/1/2019

My last few days have been an experience of lumbering through. Very full schedules and not in the best of health, but doing what needs to be done all the same.

But I haven’t just been muddling through. It’s been a little better than that.

I look forward to clear sinuses and more energy, but there has been something useful about all this lumbering.

I feel that perhaps I’ve learned something about cutting the fat out of life. Last night, I actually had the sense to get in bed before midnight.

I recently encountered an idea that would have shocked me a few years ago. It goes like this:

Beware of passion.

No one said, “Don’t be passionate.” What was meant was that passion isn’t good criteria for forward movement. It’s there one day and gone the next.

What do you do on the days it isn’t there?

Clarity of purpose, on the other hand, can be consistent, day in and day out. As Feldenkrais used to say, “If you know what you’re doing, you can do what you want.”

Do you know what you’re doing?

Knowing what you’re doing in a way that goes deeper than surface level means knowing why you are doing what you’re doing – why you chose this to do instead of something else.

Tired, slightly sick, and with a number of tasks I would have been happy to be relieved of, these past few days still felt nourishing because I knew what I was doing and why, and I did what I had to do.

Doing something that you “have to do” doesn’t seem very joyful at first glance – until you step back and realize:

These aren’t obligations – I’m living the life I chose to live!

It’s funny to read my own words and notice that I’m only telling myself to be an adult from time to time, to periodically let go of the fantasy that an ideal life is nothing but fun and games.

Luckily, the life I’ve chosen, even on grayer days, is all about maintaining a playful spirit. That child-like orientation is essential to my ability to accomplish my adult goals, and even slog through the mud from time to time.

For many years, I was in love with “passion.”

I still relish the feeling when adrenaline in my system can be directly fed into the activity I am engaged in at this moment. This is undoubtedly one form of the experience of joy.

Still, it isn’t the only form.

Another form of joy is the feeling of lifting one foot and placing it in front of the other – over and over and over. At times, the only celebration is about having taken this one small step in the climb.

But consistently doing that which we have chosen to “have to do” affords us another joy as well. From time to time, we can pause, turn, and look back over our shoulder.

On a clear day we will see all the way to the horizon, and sometimes, beyond.


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