Passion

Passion2Men, do you feel your passion? Well, if you’re like me, it’s one of those icky feeling things we try our best to ignore. One of my therapists tells me there are really only four basic emotions. An article (“…A new study says..”) published in Atlantic Monthly way back in January of 2014 (Hmmm… A lot has happened since then hasn’t it? states:

…New research from the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow, published this week in Current Biology, says the range of human emotion may be a little closer to a teaspoon than previously thought…

So we’re down to four basic emotions.  And because this is such an emotional topic, please pardon the length of this tome.  I’m warning you now, but don’t be discouraged it’s not that long:  

In the not too distant past it was theorized there are/were six varieties of emotions according to the Atlantic Monthly piece.  Now they’ve boiled it down to four, but actually, there are so many variations and misplaced emotions that it’s really vegetable soup. What are sometimes considered ‘secondary’ emotions number about 25, but we’ll go with what the ‘experts’ say:

  • Joy (or if you like, happiness)
  • Sadness 
  • Fear
  • Anger (or if you like, disgust)

When I first started therapy, lo those many (like 38 or 40) years ago, my very first therapist worked with me on being assertive.  I was told I’m very passive/aggressive which means don’t get mad, get even somehow.  I say yes when I mean no because I want people to be happy (to which you might ask: How’s that workin’?)  My therapist then proceeded to give me a t-shirt covered in emoticons.  Yes, we had emojis back then, but we called them ‘happy faces’ and there were very simple yellow circles with smiley faces, sad faces, angry faces and afraid faces. Interestingly there were probably about 15 or 20, I don’t remember exactly because there were only two that I recognized, happy and sad.

Anyways, as my hero Seth Bullock says, I’m here today to talk about passion.  Not necessarily ‘Love’ because I’ve always believed love is a verb, and not really an emotion.  Passion, however, fits into the Joy and Happiness category somewhere. And I’m writing this because it’s one of the few emotions I experienced throughout my career as a human being.  

Now Passion is often equated with lust, and though it does fit in with lust and women (or men of course), it can be applied to so many of life’s situations.  And even though as I became a human I didn’t put it on any kind of ’emotion’ list, passion is a feeling I’ve always had about so many things.  I didn’t have a clue what anger was, we were not allowed (or at least my mind told me that) to express anger in our little San Fernando Valley home in the late 50’s and early 60’s.  Sadness was not a part of my emotional vocabulary either.  Big Boys Don’t Cry was the mantra in my house.  

But passion, ah yes, PASSION was available to me.  This list is a list of my passions!  Yes, Really:

  • Animals (which has sub-categories)
    • Domestic
    • Wild
  • Adrenaline, well, and if you’ve read some of my other posts, Dopamine (which has sub-categories)
    • Surfing
    • Skiing
    • Bicycling
    • Hang Gliding
    • Rock Climbing
    • Motorcycling
  • Education (which has sub-categories)
    • History
    • Art
    • Science
    • Engineering
    • Language
  • Money (Though I don’t have any, but which has sub-categories)
    • Real Estate
    • Stocks
    • Finance
  • Technology (which of course has sub-categories)
    • Computers
    • Photography
    • The internet (I am a web developer)
    • Energy and Power
    • Music (even rudimentary instruments are a form of technology)
  • People
    • Helping the homeless and mentally ill
      • My son is or has been both
    • Children
    • Young people (older than children)
    • Old People (older than young people)
    • Politics
    • Psychology (and neuropsychology)
    • Addiction
    • Awareness
    • Women

Yes, Women.  This last category boys and girls is why I’m writing this post about passion.  Women (and Whiskey) are the bane of my existence, but I have had a passionate affair with women since my dick first got hard.  Anyone who tells you they understand women is full of shit.  Even women don’t understand women.  But by God, I have a passion for them.  And I know a little about them.  As the Big Book says; “We realize we only know a little. God will constantly disclose (expose?) more to you and to us.”

I do know that women like passion.  Women are passionate about passion.  An article from the good ol’ Huffington Post was passed along to me which incited me to write this post.  The article is “Why Women Leave Men They Love: What Every Man Needs To Know“.  The guy who wrote this didn’t seem to know much about how to get people’s attention.  It’s VERY negative and condescending.  It’s obviously written about and to men, but rather than beating me over the head, he should have been a little more passionate about his article.  It should have been more of a plea than a condemnation.  For a therapist, the guy doesn’t have much empathy.  

Oh, but he’s a Hakomi Therapist.  Hakomi is a form of mindfulness-centered somatic psychotherapy developed by Ron Kurtz in the 70s.  Now I don’t know much about mindfulness, though I’ve been studying it for a couple years now, I’m just a drunk.  I do know when you write an article which is supposed to enlighten: leave out the disdain and browbeating, you’ll lose your audience and just leave them frustrated, disgruntled and hating themselves.  Well, OK, that’s just my mindless mental filter being applied to his scholarly article.

Enough about Justice Schanfarber, his name tells it all.  Justice?  Really?  Well, OK then.  Here’s what he’s trying to say.  Gents, it’s all about passion, and not necessarily the lust kind, but that applies as well.  I’ll repeat this from above, because I really, truly, get it.  Women are passionate about passion.

One of the things I don’t like about the article is its so fucking demanding.  Have a heart man.  Here’s a little of how I would describe passion differently than our author with the big hammer.  To show your wife you’re passionate about her, try to be more ‘present’.  Really that just means listen.  If you talk, she will patiently listen, but its so much better if you don’t say anything.  My mind has a tendency to wander, especially when she’s talking about Manolo Blahniks, which I had to Google to know how to spell.  It takes practice; it takes mindfulness.

Try to Notice her (with a passion!).  Something in her attracted you in the first place.  If I close my eyes, I remember what it was.  The soft pretty blonde hair.  The green eyes.  Yes, you remember, you can see it! I keep trying Notice her.   I try to look deeply, I have to keep my lips closed.  I smile. She loves that.  It’s sometimes very hard not to say something, and it sounds so fucking corny.  I do it even when I’m pissed because she’s been nagging me about doing my invoicing and her incessant questions remind me of my dad.  Please dear, you’re not my dad, and it’s not about you, it’s just some of the things you do remind me of him.

I almost have to force myself, especially when she’s interrupted me while I’m working and she wants me to come out on the balcony and look at some fucking squirrel.  I grit my teeth and go to her and look first at the squirrel, which is kinda cute, then I look at her and watch her watching the squirrel.  I try SO HARD to look deeply, even though I’m thinking “When can I go back to my computer and that snippet of code I was just hammering so hard on?”  I breathe in and out, and try to meet her gaze thinking ‘Don’t look away, don’t look away, just stare into those pretty green eyes (that I really do like) and count to five.’  It’s fucking uncomfortable!  But I AM curious.  I really DO want to see her deeply and be curious about who she is, even though that SQL statement keeps popping into my head.

Then she starts paying attention to ME.  Cuz really it’s all about me…  Then she’ll ask “What are you doing?” (because she’s now uncomfortable too, but I got her attention).  Now I’ll revert back to Schanfarber’s goofy piece (because he DOES have some gems of wisdom) and use this: “I’m looking into you. I want to see you deeply. I’m curious about who you are. After all these years I still want to know who you are, every day.”  Schanfarber says “only say it if you mean it.”  I call bullshit.  I CAN say it, and not quite mean it passionately.  If I do it enough times, it starts to creep into my own reality.  And really it IS true, even if I don’t quite believe it at first.

Schanfarber goes on to say this: “But you’re busy. You don’t have time for all this. How about five minutes? Five minutes a day. Will you commit to that? I’m not talking about extravagant dinners or date nights (although these are fine too). I’m talking about five minutes a day to be completely present with the woman you share your life with. To be completely open– listening and seeing without judgement. Will you do that? I bet once you start, once you get a taste, you won’t want to stop.”

Stop beating me up for god’s sake.  Do you think you’re my father?  He sounds like my father.  Here’s my take:

I am busy.  It’s so annoying, and it takes time.  But only a little time; maybe five minutes.  At first if it’s tough, just give it three minutes.  Set a timer, be very conscious, oh, and by the way when the timer goes off you have a built in excuse (make one up before you start) to stop and try it again later.  Try it, and you’ll actually see HER change.  Dinners and dates are fine, but this is way cheaper.  And if you try it, you’ll actually be amazed.  Her countenance will soften.  She’ll get all dreamy eyed.  If you keep this up, she’ll even be nice to you!

At least Schanfarber gets something right without hitting me over the head with it:  “…Touch her with your full attention. Before you put your hand on her, notice the sensation in your hand. Notice what happens the moment you make contact. What happens in your body? What do you feel? Notice the most subtle sensations and emotions. (This is sometimes described as mindfulness.) Tell her everything you’re noticing, moment after moment…”  Although he did have to remind me, condescendingly, “…This is sometimes described as mindfulness…”  Oh, thank you Sensei, is that like awareness or something?  Where is this guy from?  Probably Santa Monica. Uh, no, with a name like that he’s got to be from Germany. Deutschland; aber naturlich!  Well maybe an ex-patriated German, he’s in Canada now.

But indeed, if I bring a little passion in, just a little at first, my world might skew a tiny bit.  If only I can keep it up.  I will because I like it too.  My life is filled with passion, and even though I may bitch and balk, she’s worth more than any ski slope, motorcycle or sunset.  Besides, we do keep each other warm at night.

Gentlemen, just remember it’s not about the nail…