This is about the importance of expressing one's passions. Not sexual passion, but every other kind of passion - tapping into and connecting with what you care about, what provides meaning, what matters most to you.
Recently I subscribed to someone's channel on youtube. He's a therapist by trade, and coincidentally has many of the same interests and philosophies about life that I do, so I really enjoy the way he analyzes ideas, especially the deeper psychological concepts often expressed in film, a passion of mine. Here's an excerpt from his bio: "I make a mixture of film analysis videos, philosophy, psychoanalysis, poetry, and sharing my general, sincere thoughts on life. I don't think that quite encapsulates it all, but basically I go through life looking for meaning in things and I like to try and share what I think and find with the rest of you."
I've tried to find his name, but he doesn't seem to want to publicize it, so I will simply abbreviate his account name, 'My Little Thought Tree', to 'MLTT', henceforth.
What is also interesting to me about this man is how many psychological aspects of life he struggles with, despite the fact that he is a therapist, himself (he has anxiety, for instance, which is impactful to his life, yet not so debilitating as to be crippling.) This really reaffirms the idea, to me... humans are human. There's really no way around that, no shortcuts, no one true or surefire avoidance technique that one can unerringly try and enforce to keep one's doubts, demons, or fears away. Facing them, acknowledging them, processing and reconciling them is really the only way out, the only way through.
I've written this phrase before, but I do love it so here it is, once more, from my dear and wise friend Sonya (she did not come up with it, but in talking about her own personal journey and deep dive into meditation and the psyche, she introduced me to it, and I like to give credit where credit is due...)
'From the ashes, rises a phoenix.'
The phoenix is a mythical bird from Greek mythology.
Essentially, the phrase means to emerge renewed after disaster or destruction; to emerge from a catastrophe stronger, wiser and more powerful.
It could be a literal destruction, or emotional, or metaphorical. Whatever the root, and in order for this to happen, I believe we must not lose sight of our passions. We must also be open, curious, inquisitive, and have courage enough to explore such things. This is, shall we say, one of the burning issues, half the battle, one of the key obstacles we must overcome and reconcile, in order to understand life. Or perhaps, to live life fully.
Another related, and maybe even more appropriate term for what I am speaking of, is 'élan.'
Élan: full of life and energy; vitality, style, spirit, flair, flash, flash, panache; an enthusiastic vigor and liveliness.
From the Mid 19th century French élan, élancer, meaning ‘to dart’, ‘to throw’.
Someone with élan can be said to dart around with enthusiasm and a unique flair. If you say that someone does something with élan, you mean that they do it in an energetic and confident way.
(In the future, you will see me speak of 'erotic élan.')
So, here are 'Some Thoughts on Passion' (to use MLTT's phrase):
The Problem with Passion: Where Does it Go?
Well, perhaps we can say that we are all born with it, or at least the potential for it. Do all living creatures have passion? For them, maybe it's more desire, and by that, desire on a purely primal level. We humans have that as well, but the passion I am referring to (such as élan) is probably more connected to consciousness and our innate need to express a sense of individuality, while also not dampening the fire within.
The problem is that passion can be crushed, the flames doused. It can happen through overzealous parenting, obsessive-compulsive behaviour that redirects energy away from openness and instead toward creating structure to quell the flurry of activity, the thoughts that, if left unchecked, can quite easily run rampant and overtake our sense of calmness, contentedness, and even wonder. 'Helicopter parenting', 'snowplow parenting', peers at school, self-doubt and insecurity... they all clamp down on us and embolden our inhibitions, creating stop gaps for every impulse, every enthusiasm.
The term 'helicopter parent' was first used in Dr. Haim Ginott's 1969 book 'Parents & Teenagers', by teens who said their parents would hover over them like a helicopter. It is a style of parents who are overly-focused, overly-involved in a child's life in a way that is over-controlling, over-protecting, and over-perfecting - i.e. over-parenting.'It is 'extra' - excess of parenting.
The 'snowplow parent' is a person who constantly forces obstacles out of their kids' paths. They have their eye on the future success of their child, and anyone or anything that stands in their way has to be removed.
Now We Are Six
Six is a pivotal age, the age which undergoes the most dramatic changes in development. Perhaps this is why A. A. Milne wrote a poem about it (which has since become iconic.) "The time between 6 and 8 is one of tremendous cognitive change for children. They move from being preschoolers into middle childhood, from a life dominated by fantasy to one that is beginning to be governed by logic and reason. They start to see themselves as more autonomous individuals, capable of basic independent problem solving. Children at age 6 are in the latter phases of Piaget’s 'Preoperational Period', the time during which children learn to use language. The end of the preoperational period is marked by the child’s intuitive grasp of logical concepts in limited, tangible arenas, while continuing to be dominated by perceptions in other arenas.
Another hallmark of completion of the preoperational stage is the ability to manipulate symbolic elements, such as having control over written language and symbolic play. Completing this stage means that children are now able to mentally manipulate information and begin to take another person’s point of view or infer what another person is thinking, spontaneously and independently. The full development of these abilities will take several more years. The end of the preoperational period marks the decline (although not the obliteration) of a child’s egocentricism (his belief that what he thinks and feels is felt by everyone else as well). The ability to (begin to) take another person’s perspective means that children understand in a new way that other people think differently than they do, that other people may literally and figuratively “see” things differently. As a result, they can begin to role play and take on multiple personas." - Michelle Anthony, PhD
"In essence, six is the age of loving rules, goals, friendships, and appreciation from others. The 6-year-old child is developing new areas of mastery and they want appreciation for that. As adults, we still crave the joy of learning new things and we still crave others to appreciate our growth. Thinking about 6-year-olds reminds us how our past developmental stages are both past and present. As William Faulkner said, "The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past." - Shirah Vollmer, MD
As we move from childhood into adolescence and then adulthood, we often lose the connection to play, and exploration. Creativity, creative thought is born out of a desire, or a need, for self-expression. Not in the Insta, social media, selfie, 'look at me, am I good?, am I pretty?, do I matter?, type of way, but more root than that. It's not just about ego or affirmation. We express, we emote, as a symbol or a metaphor for the emotions we contain and control inside of ourselves. Whether we feel most ourselves doing that through the written word, music, fine art, solving real-world practical problems through out-of-the-box thinking, intellectual curiosity, or in connecting and conversing with others... our internal expressions of who we are, what we think, and most significantly, what we feel, are like the lifeblood that connects us to our external world. Achievements in the external world are only made possible by achievements first in the internal world. And when we are relaxed, open, in touch with that internal world, and unbounded by the judgement and expectations of others, when our mind is able to achieve a 'state of flow', creativity and self-expression, the passion can rise up, before it is quashed by our own self-editing and the voices of others, and instead burn like a warm and inviting fire, where all else fades into black. Think a little more 'id', than 'ego' or 'superego.'
According to Freud, he believed the key to a healthy personality is a balance between the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is the only component of personality that is present from birth and is said to be the source of all psychic energy, making it the primary component of personality. It is entirely subconscious and includes instinctive and primitive behaviors.
If the ego is able to adequately moderate between the demands of reality, the id, and the superego, a healthy and well-adjusted personality emerges.
An individual with an overly dominant id might become impulsive, uncontrollable, or act upon their most basic urges with no concern for whether their behavior is appropriate or acceptable.
On the other hand, an overly dominant superego might lead to a personality that is extremely moralistic and judgmental. A person ruled by the superego might not be able to accept anything or anyone that they perceive to be "bad" or "immoral."
Many of Freud's theories have long since been challenged and debunked, and he is considered to be a bit of whack job in some circles, but his 1923 study and landmark essay, 'The Ego and the Id', did introduce many of the foundational concepts still used in psychoanalysis today. "It would be hard to overestimate the significance of 'The Ego and the Id' for psychoanalytic theory and practice. The ego, id, and superego are now inescapably part of popular culture, political commentary and everyday discourse." - Elizabeth Lunbeck
What Is At Stake?
"Somehow it's not cool to care. When you are young, it's seen as cool to sit back, to not try, to just watch other people who are trying, trying to achieve something, and maybe sometimes discovering talents they never knew they had. The thing is, when you care, when you admit that you care, you open yourself up to possible criticism.
It's so easy to hide our passions, our cares, about whatever, about anything. And when we all do that, the world becomes a much duller, empty, more disconnected place. And then not only do we fail to express ourselves, fail to discover our hidden talents and thoughts and everything else. We also fail to connect other people expressing theirs. We fail to disconnect with anyone on a deeper level because no one is expressing anything, and when someone does, they get shot down. There is a kind of competitive, animalistic culture, where you're looking to one over other people, and we're all still a bit insecure so it can happen that people get shot down. By the time you get out of school, and that age, people don't really shoot you down in the same way anymore, not in the same way, but by that time you've gotten used to people shooting you down, and it makes you sort of hide your passions, and pretend you don't really care.
I got used to hiding. I was filled with all sorts of maybe interesting stuff I would think and could say, if only I had the voice, if only I was able to speak, but we tend not to, we tend to stay quiet and not show it.
Sincerity is deeply important. Without it, we'd all regress into a cold state of apathy, where life all together starts to feel just meaningless; life feels meaningless enough nowadays. Emotion, and a kind of raw liveliness [aka élan] is what gives life its meaning." - MLTT
It is better to express, than to fear expression. It is better to live life with zest and vigor, than to bury your passion. To bury your passion is to bury who you are. When you hide, you close down. When you live without passion or purpose, you lessen and limit both who you are, and who you could become. You become a person "... too directly bound to its own anguish to be anything other than a cry of negation; carrying within itself the seeds of its own destruction."
What Is the Answer?
The answer, or one of the answers, is to make specific, conscious effort, to dedicate ourselves, to allow for freedom. Perhaps it seems ironic, idiotic, even, to speak of something as oxymoronic as systematic freedom (I am just making this phrase up here), and I don't necessarily disagree, but I say it to try and drive the point home - tapping into passion is not solely relegated to the fortune of, or being the byproduct of, inspiration. It's more apt to think of it as creating the foundation, the wellspring, from which the fountain can flow. Or the words which can be written. Or the energy that creates the idea that begins a new chapter, a new adventure in your life. You create something so that you don’t have to live with the reality that you didn't create something. Or you didn't try. Create something so that you don’t have nothing. Once you reframe it this way, it becomes apparent that it is about the difference between existing, and truly living; between surviving and thriving; between not being dead, and living. Aliveness, elan, is expansive. The antithesis is contraction, protection. Don't let one bleed into the other. Don't let apathy or complacency seep and settle into your bones and convince you they are one and the same, that there's little difference between the two. Don't become accustomed to fear, and sadness, and withdrawing from the world, so much so that you no longer remember what you wanted some day, to be, to become. In order to discover, you must explore. And to explore, you must live your life with passion.
With nothing more than pen and paper, or your own hand, or your own voice, you can create something genuine, beautiful, moving, or inspiring that no one has made before, or perhaps it is the alchemy of you and another. Whatever it is, start small. Start fresh. Start somewhere. Just begin. 🖼
"People have immense, deep talents that are often overlooked by the systems that are designed to educate them or take care of them. There are multivarious factors on whether or not people achieve what they achieve. The ones we know about are the ones whose talents came to fruition because the conditions proved to be favourable for them, but how many other people could achieve things if the conditions were right? We are not robots. We are driven by feelings and inspiration and a sense of possbility. Creativity is the essence of humanity. It’s not an incidental part of being human. It’s distincitively human." - Sir Ken Robinson
"Art washes away, from the soul, the dust of everyday life.
The world today doesn't make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?
There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.
Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.
Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not. I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
What do you think an artist is? ...he is a political being, constantly aware of the heart breaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war."
- Artist Amy Turner
I chose to feature words and images of art here, but they are only one aspect of what has been discussed. Find your medium, your venue, anything that touches you, or makes your soul happy, and take it wherever you wish. Or, let it take you. The point is to allow for possibility.
'A Few Thoughts On Passion (Dead Poet Society)' by My Little Thought Tree
“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected." - John Steinbeck
"Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." - Albert Einstein