The Shape of Passion

The Shape of Passion is found only in passionate encounter with life, with what is right in front of up. Imagining passion is like eating imaginary pizza.

The Costa Rica Update

rainbowDouble rainbow… and an earth tremor

Week three of our sabbatical — time flies in the jungle… 😉 It’s the transitional week or so between the wet and dry season, and it’s been raining — a lot. We’ve even missed three days of hikes, although we just got back from a stroll to the bodega, as the food supply was getting low. Believe it or don’t — no pollo. (chicken.) Hmm.

Aiming at a trip to Monteverde, to walk in the trees of the cloud forest.

shape of passion

This week’s quote:

Underneath all the wanting and grasping, underneath the need to understand is what we have called “the body of fear.” At the root of suffering is a small heart, frightened to be here, afraid to trust the river of change, to let go in this changing world.”

After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, Jack Kornfield, p. 213

I remember an interesting moment with a friend of mine. We were discussing a mutual friend, and she mentioned that the mutual friend was really concerned about something or other, was making herself sick over it, that there was this big, deep problem. She asked me how I saw the situation. I replied, “Yeah, I do remember her saying something about that, but I didn’t really listen, and I don’t much care.”

My friend, I think, had a moment there of not really liking me. She was incensed at what she judged as my unfeeling and uncaring attitude.

I said, “And now you’re upsetting yourself over my reaction to a situation that’s not about you. I don’t care because the situation, while is seems critical, isn’t all that important. Knowing her, the next time she’s here, she’ll be miserable about something else.”

Another friend endlessly finds externals either to upset herself over, or to turn herself on with. She’s be “different, happier” after she moves, after she gets a new partner, after others approve of her. Never a word about actual, passionate engagement with her own life. I hear her speaking, but don’t really listen.

There’s an old joke about this new psychiatrist who rides up in the elevator each morning with an older, practiced psychiatrist. At night they ride down together. For months, the young guy notices that the older psychiatrist seems unruffled, whereas he feels like he’s been through the mill. Finally he speaks up, “How do you look so fresh at night having seen clients and heard all of their terrible tales?” The older psychiatrist says, “Who listens?”

OK, I’m being flip here. And yes, I do listen.

I’m noted, in fact, for my memory. Many are the times that a client comes in and says something, and I say, “But six months ago you said the opposite.” Annoys the heck out of them.

I’m not trying to be smart when I do this. I’m trying to suggest that our stories are just that, and have absolutely nothing to do with living life.

sea of change

One of the more interesting lessons of life is learning to swim in a sea of change. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus reminded us that you can never step into the same river twice. Many people fervently don’t want to hear this.

Believing this would require doing away with two things:

  1. the belief that we can control the world by making it stay the same, and
  2. the belief that we know anything at all.

Or, as it has been put — wisdom is being, not knowing.

Our topic—living life more passionately—is actually a walk into “not knowing.” While I was writing this, Darbella and I were watching We Day Waterloo. Our niece Anjuli was there, along with 6000 other kids, and the work of Save the Children is dear to our hearts.

The kids are all turned on by the event. They are then encouraged to go to and pick a project, and start changing the world.

Get this. They start. They do something. And that is ADDED to the others doing the same.

Me becomes WE, but only if “me” gets off my ass and actually does something! Passion is passionate engagement, not thinking, not story-telling, not expecting “things” to change.

Things change when you do!

This is why I didn’t particularly take my client’s distress seriously. I laugh a lot about my dramas, and I work to teach others to laugh at theirs. You see, this person had a pattern of making every situation awful. That’s the baseline, non-changeable part. What I see, however, and what all of you know, if you look, is that all situations change minute by minute. Something happens, boom, it’s awful. Until the next awful thing comes along. Then the first is forgotten, the new thing comes “front and centre.”

(I once said to a client, “So, imagine you’re having the worst fight ever with your partner. Huge crisis, deep feelings. Now, Ed McMahon shows up at the door and hands you a cheque for 6 million. How do you feel? What happened to the fight?”)


My client believes that she is forever trapped in a relentlessly awful life. But stepping back, we see a river of experience flowing by. Nothing is the same. Experience upon experience. Each experience neutral. Until she grabs one and “awfulizes” it.

Now the opposite of this would be to simply be with each experience as it emerges, and to choose what, if anything, to do with it. If you stay open and curious and put yourself out there, into situations you might “normally” have avoided, you get different results. Acting with an open mind and heart, you discover an entirely different experience, one that is perhaps more open and freeing.

I know people are resisting change, resisting not knowing, when they universalize. “He always treats me …” She never want to … ” “Everyone thinks I’m …” They want me to buy into their belief that there is no choice. In truth, there is always choice. If we choose …

It’s not that nothing is happening and everything is the same. The question is, what are we willing to notice?

Our lack of passion for life, our lack of passion in loving, is about our pre-judgement (prejudice) that nothing will ever change. As soon as we allow for change to be possible, voila, change is all over the place.

This sort of choiceful looking occurs all the time, if we will but open our eyes and pay attention. I remembered a friend wrote the following:

I was watching the sky tonight as I drove home and the beauty brought tears to my eyes. The clouds were at all different levels and the sun was setting…vibrant blue sky with big puffy and layered clouds of dark and light purple and pink and orange and…ahhhh, glorious indeed! I was also noticing my thoughts…ranging from scaring myself to creating immense peace and joy…this is real living…a slice of life as a dear soul once described to me. I felt like I was expanding into the sky. I don’t think I ever created that experience for myself before.

If you look. If you look. If you look.

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

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