The Dance of Passion and Charge — often we confuse the two, and because we expect fireworks every moment, we miss the underlying current of passion that, if we let it, propels us into meaningful lives
In This Moment
Canada Day fireworks in Waterloo was excessively stunning. Got to share the day with friends, and the drama with 20,000 or so. Have I mentioned lately that I L‑O-V‑E Canada? Been here since 1975, and a citizen since around 1990.
I was talking with a client the other day, and the topic swung around to “life purpose,” aka finding and living your passion. I discuss this a lot, and often I hear,
“I don’t know my purpose, I’m not passionate about anything. ”
Normally, I’d say something about how I didn’t know what she “ought” to be passionate about… and of course this is so. It’s self-understanding, and I can’t (and won’t) do the work for someone else.
But I’ve been puzzled by how many of my clients seem to be going through life adamantly not knowing or living their passion.
A good friend was also in for Bodywork and talk — usually she’s in a few times a year. She’s a professional, and likes what she does, although the bureaucracy is starting to wear on her. I’ve been asking her the “passion” question for a while, and nothing occurs to her. Nothing. This session, however, after Bodywork, she seemed to come to a realization of the link between passion and self-knowing.
So, anyway, with the client I mentioned first, I had a bit of a flash.
We’d been discussing sex, ending a relationship, and how missing the sex (the orgasm part) had been what she was focussing on — keeping her from ending things. We then moved to what she wanted for her life, and my mind clicked back to her thoughts on charge, leading her to be stuck.
Here was the flash: I said, “You know, when it comes to figuring out your life purpose, there is a big difference between charge and passion.”
I think I figured out at least part of the dilemma people were having. They’re looking for fireworks instead of a gently illuminated path. Mind-blowing as opposed to mind-stimulating. A rush, a high, instead of a second wind.
An orgasm, as opposed to a full-bodied experience.
I’ve heard this expressed as, “I don’t know about giving him a chance, as he doesn’t turn me on.” We’re talking long-term here, not “affairs.” In several cases, friends or clients almost didn’t start what turned out to be a successful relationship, because there was low sexual charge. To begin with. The charge factor, “(S)he doesn’t turn me on,” is taken as a sign that something is wrong at a deeper, more intimate level.
The issue is that charge and passion are apples and oranges
Charge is intense, ecstatic, localized, and short lived.
Passion is sustainable, focussed, diffuse, and ongoing.
Charge is genital based, and passion is whole body based.
Imagine a life of only fireworks
In much of Bodywork, East and West, as well as erotic massage work, the techniques are designed to build “charge” and then move it into the body from the belly / genital area. We might think, then, that while charge and passion are rooted (he says with a grin) in the entire body, charge is designed to be “blown off,” while passion is meant to build.
OK, so how does this fit with life focus, vocation, and finding your purpose?
I’m pretty sure that most of you didn’t get life passion lessons as you were growing up, any more than that most of you got lessons in how to have a fulfilling sex life. Mostly, adults learn stuff by trial and error, and through confused experiences.
Add to that the grim thought expressed in the novel,The Truth of All Things:
“The overwhelming majority of people in the world are unimaginative dullards who, in their three score and ten allotted years, manage to divine no purpose for their being other than to chase money, seize what moments of physical pleasure they can, and to create new, largely unimproved versions of themselves, whom they raise with the same mindless disregard they have applied to their own lives. Tell me, please, what use would such beings have for an afterlife? Whatever would they do with an eternity?” p.157
I see this with my middle-aged clients in the throes of mid-life crisis, which is really nothing more than waking up one fine day and realizing that nothing preceding has been worth very much. Money, job title, even “family” — if it’s been done without purpose or thought or decision, it falls flat.
I remember that sensation when “The Ministry” no longer was of interest to me. There was a moment of stark realization — I’d been doing things for at least a year out of habit — not interest, and surely not passion.
In relationships, lack of passion is seen in endless arguments over trivials, decisions being made on default (“The right thing” as opposed to “What I want.”), and simply putting one foot in front of another with no clue why or “where to.”
The flaw is thinking that life is “supposed to be” chargy.
Right person, endless charge. Right career, every moment a triumph. Right family, endless bliss. All fed by media that presents such pie-in-the-sky moments as if they can go on forever.
Real life is more about active engagement with each moment
Charge leads to the leap, and to being submerged in passion
When I ask the life purpose question in terms of self-satisfaction — a feeling of calm, centered focus, virtually everyone can come up with the thing or things they DO that engender such “whole-body” feeling.
Here’s the point: this DOing is all about presence. It’s not thinking, planning, wool-gathering, wasting time trying to divine the “right” path. It’s step-by-step enacting. Thus, by definition, it lacks charge, which is all about time limited explosions.
In fact, the more you long for, or chase, charge, the farther you are from satisfaction, from presence, and from living your purpose.
Lastly, for this week, let’s remember: everything has its place
This is not a condemnation of charge. In its place, just like everything else, it’s great. Charge is an expression of the overwhelming nature of specific turn-ons — moments in time where we are fit to burst.
I remember taking a young friend to the symphony — and her face throughout was pure, unadulterated bliss. Now, I love the symphony, but her reaction was visceral, shaking, wide-eyed charge.
Turns out she has color synesthesia — she sees sound as colour, and described what happened as an “ear-gasm.” I sort of get it!
That said, hopping from one charge to another leads to exhaustion and nothing real.
In the coming weeks, we’ll look more at developing a capacity for charge — release. We’ll compare that to the moment-by moment walking of passion’s path — how to nurture your own sense of vocation into a succession of full, deep engagements.
In the mean time, ask yourself: what is my passion? What are the ways I want to:
1) engage with others, and
2) live my life?
Think about the things you continually come back to, the core desires that motivate you. Wonder how you might better express your unique take on these motivators.
Focus in on what matters to you. Focus on expression, full bodied expression, as opposed to doing what’s expected of you.
And feel free to ask questions, share experiences, and speak your truth! That’s what the Comments are for!