Friday, December 19, 2008

A passionate life worth living?

As I continue to ponder my "what I want" list, I came across this article on the web and it gave me a lot to think about...

Human beings crave experiences that take us beyond our everyday routines. If we want more out of life, we will want to look at patterns that are holding us back right now. We need to go beyond the ordinary from time to time and get caught up in something that feels bigger than we are. Getting beyond our sense of individual isolation that feeds our souls.

What are you passionate about?

Spiritual experiences are often felt in the body as a subtle connection between the physical self and the emotional self. It can feel hard to explain to others; we may even feel a little embarrassed trying to describe what we are feeling. Modern English doesn’t have good words to describe these experiences. Probably the best word is transcendence – a sense of moving beyond our isolated selves and into deeper connection with our entire self, other people or the world around us. We feel moved to a higher level. It’s hard to explain, but we know it when we get there.

There are things we know about how to live passionately. Finding the right balance between living in a highly energetic state on the one hand and being well grounded on the other is important. If we live out of a place of being highly energetic but not too focused on reality, we will eventually crash and burn. On the other hand, living all wrapped up in reality but with little gusto is at least as bad; there may not be a dramatic flameout, but life itself has little exhilaration about it. That’s a problem for those of us who live too much in our heads. We rely on our intellect to help us earn a living; it feels like safe territory for us. But the intellect alone won’t take you where you want to ago.

Living passionately requires us to really be in our bodies. That’s why physical stuff like dancing, running and other aerobic activity creates that high sensation. We feel alive! Doing things that wake up our bodies can feel great and help us move past blocked places.

Creativity is another key to passionate living. Gay men are famous for creativity, of course, whether it’s cooking a fabulous meal or painting the Sistine Chapel. What do you do to let your creativity out?

Paying attention to the sensual world is another key to waking up our passionate selves. What fragrances do you notice as you read this? What do you see all around you? When we slow down and take time to experience what is going on in the world and in ourselves, we can find a universe of delight all around us. Slowing down isn’t always easy. That’s why things like massage or meditation help some men get in touch with their passionate selves.

Perhaps the final key to living passionately is to stop settling for less than we truly want in life. Understanding our desires isn’t always easy. Some desires change from moment to moment, some are hard to put into words, and some are, well, a bit embarrassing. That’s OK. Someone once told me, “The space for what you want in life is occupied by what you are settling for right now.” What are you settling for in work, intimate relationships, and the rest of your one juicy life?

Passionate living is much easier if we make a commitment to getting as much as possible out of life. It requires a bit of self-understanding and a bit of self-discipline if we are in it for the long haul.

It’s important to understand that while we may long for more aliveness, passion and ecstasy, there is another part of us that is scared of living life without holding back. That critical voice inside us says things like: Who the hell are you to think you could do that? You’ll probably die if you let go. Better to stay put and not think such extravagant thoughts. So that part of us tries to distract us.

"If we want more out of life, we will want to look at patterns that are holding us back right now."

John R. Ballew, M.S. a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Atlanta.

I want to live my life more fully.

I want to be more passionate.
I want my emotions to be celebrated.
I want to feel things and be moved by them and to not be afraid of such feelings.

I want to be passionate about every aspect of my life.
I want to feel more alive and not just have life happen to me.
I want to allow my passions to connect with others.

I want to not allow myself to be afraid of connecting with others.
I want to look at these connections to be looked upon as positive.

I want to be less afraid of who I am.

I want to be who I am.

I want to risk more and reach out more to others.

I want to not be held back.

I'm tired of feeling dead. I'm tired of going through the motions. I'm tired of having life happen and just letting it happen.

I recently have been threatened in a very personal and very intimidating way with a very serious lawsuit involving my professional liability. At first I felt scared and confused and intimidated, and began to feel no recourse by to cower to the bullies of the corporate world. But as I've had some time to reflect, I have done NOTHING WRONG. I believe that what I have done has been professional and my work has exemplified integrity and honesty. I am not going to allow myself to be scared of these corporate attorneys. I feel passionate about my work and my name and I am not going to be held back.

I recently have been advised that my relationship with others, including Thomas, is inappropriate and that I should back down. But, as I've had time to reflect on this, I have done NOTHING WRONG. I believe that we can love and connect, yes even romantically, with many people, not just one person, and there is a place and acceptance with even God with this love that I feel for multiple people. I am willing to risk my emotions and feelings for others as I strive to live my life more fully, more passionately.

What I love about Italians is their passion for life. I love that they get angry and voice their opinions openly. I love that they touch and feel and aren't afraid of emotions and spiritual connections. I love that they can love. These feelings can all be combined in minutes within the same conversation. I feel we aren't passionate enough in our lives. We become too reserved, to removed from others, too beyond touch and connection.
Maybe there is something in this on honesty, integrity, authenticity - roadblocks that hold me back from truly being a passionate soul.

Any thoughts on living life more passionately? And not being afraid of feelings and connections and life?


Kengo Biddles said...

"We can connect romantically with more than one person."

For me, the linguistic freight that comes with the word romantic in this context is not something I would feel good saying.

Connecting INTENSELY with someone, yes. Loving someone as strongly as I love my wife and children? YES. I feel that way about a number of people in my life, although, at this point I doubt anyone reciprocates. (Yes. Even my wife).

But that's linguistic meaning, and that's me pushing my point of view at you. I hope you live passionately and win against the evil lawyers.

Beck said...

KENGO: The linguist in you will never die and I love that part of you... But, I feel we are saying the same thing... I will use the word INTENSELY and not feel I've lost anything in the interpretation of my meaning here...

J G-W said...

I just put up my own post on this subject yesterday morning...

On some level, I guess I have fundamentally come to believe that the purpose of this life is to provide an arena in which our deepest passions engage with the world around us and with God...

Interesting that the article you quoted in your post is by John Ballew, an old friend of mine. I met him through Lutherans Concerned many, many, many years ago in another life time, and even spent some time visiting him once at his home on a trip to Atlanta. Many strange connections here...

Beck said...

Your post is an inspiration. Your spirit of "never giving up" and "engaging" in life and the loves of your life are so much along the lines of this post and what I'm feeling and desiring right now in mine.

I find it amazing that you know John Ballew and that that quote from your friend has hit me at this time and connected us together! Many strange connections indeed.

But that is what life is made of - many "strange connections". Our lives are intertwined and it is up to us to allow those crossed-paths to connect.

Sean said...

I have recently joined the path of living passionately. I have been working on doing that all semester and it has really worked for me. What worked for me was finding a few things that I absolutely love doing. Then I decided to throw my time, efforts, and will into them. The more I did this, the more I started to love them.

Now, I'd say that I have developed a sense of passion for them. I feel incomplete without my passions. I feel a sense of purpose. I find happiness in them. I also feel in a way complete and full. This feeling has leaked over into other areas of my life. I am not afraid to express who I am anymore. I can really care less if people judge me and care less about what they think of me. It's interesting how living a passionate life and in your passions can change everything.

Good luck on living passionately!

Mark said...


I always love reading your blog. You have some very insightful topics for us to consider as you make your way through your own personal journey of discovering who you are. So thanks for that.

There are times when I feel aimless in my life - completely going through the motions as I try to meet the obligations I've made and please those who rely on and love me. But those times aren't very gratifying for me - they are fraught with emotional numbing and with me dully complying with external expectations. Not exactly self-actualizing, right?

At this very moment in time, I'm in a mode of risking "safe" in order to find myself. While it may have been right under my nose, the thing I've become keenly aware of in my own life is my passion for social justice.

My goal for this year is to do something that will make someone's life better. My heart especially goes out to the poor, to those who never have enough and to those who are summarily marginalized by people who have more power than knowledge.

I wish you great joy as you engage your passion and find the courage to live your life in a way that actually feels alive.

Kind regards,


Damon In CO said...


I love the tone of this post! I feel hope from you! It's good.

I agree with all of the things you say. I also agree that your relationship with Thomas isn't wrong.

I support you fearless, be passionate and live your life to the fullest.


Bravone said...

Sei veramente italiano, e per questo sono grato.

Beck said...

DAMON said: "...I also agree that your relationship with Thomas isn't wrong."

Though I'm not exactly asking for verification from anyone (when in reality we all want to be validated in some way, shape or form) it is nice to be understood, particularly on a subject as complicated as my feelings and relationship with Thomas.

Thanks, Damon.

Beck said...

SEAN and MARK: Best wishes as you each seek your own ways of finding the path to a more passionate life.

We've all got to become more alive! I feel like I've given up years of my life hiding my passion and stifling my life for the sake of what others think I should be doing, and not just being a free-spirit and just live the life I'm supposed to live.

Beck said...

BRAVONE: Si', sono Italiano nel cuore, ma anche sei tu!