Bird Droppings March 18, 2021
Is it passion or just obsession?
“All games have an important and probably decisive influence on the destinies of the players under ordinary social conditions, but some offer more opportunities than others for life long careers and are more likely to involve innocent bystanders.” Dr. Eric Berne, The games people play.
This past week while challenging and difficult I had many moments of solitude sitting and pondering. I had a thought. Why are we passionate about our jobs, friends, families and perhaps life in general? I started thinking and yes perhaps I think and even obsess too much. I use the word ponder as I call it, often over trivial thoughts for some meaningless dribble, little shadows that many simply never see. Can we be passionate about something any other way?
Fourteen nearly fifteen years ago today I filled in a form for a young man who was very obsessive in so much of his life. He was and still is obsessive to a point of distraction from reality many times. If you would mention Jeff Gordon’s number or name and his eyes would light up and immediately, in a torrent of language almost as fast as most people can understand there would be statistics, information on this NASCAR race or that and this sponsor or that and soon you would wish you never mentioned Jeff Gordon. I bumped into his mother a few days ago at her job.
With Obsessive-compulsive individuals changing the subject often will solve the immediate symptoms. I used Jeff Gordon to pull him back from another subject or thought that he would have been obsessing on that was less reality focused while in my class fifteen plus years ago. Obsessive-compulsive Disorder, OCD, can be manifested so many different ways often crippling a person with routines and rituals that have to be fulfilled. As I sit here I see the passion in that obsession. Perhaps there is an obsession with passion.
“All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself.” Chief Seattle, recorded by Dr. Henry Smith, 1854
So often in life, we do or say things that seemingly are independent thoughts random utterances that mean only a bit to us as we pass in that moment. Yet the ripples, the effects and flow of direction from that utterance can carry and evolve far beyond that moment and place. As in a game where one person manipulates a piece and often the other parties involved are unaware of strategy and plan and soon there is nothing left. I think back to that obsession and what may be said in meaningless thought and or pursuing a thought or an idea that is driven from some physiological mechanism we do not control. Is passion mistaken for that an errant whisper and dream? Could passion be an obsession with a simple concept that is mistaken as a true passion for that concept?
“Passion and prejudice govern the world, only under the name of reason.” John Wesley
“Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Let men tremble to win the hand of a woman unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart! Else it may be their miserable fortune, when some mightier touch than their own may have awakened all her sensibilities, to be reproached even for the calm content, the marble image of happiness, which they will have imposed upon her as the warm reality.” Nathaniel Hawthorne
It was perhaps John Wesley’s obsession that leads to his passion. Wesley was one of the founders of the United Methodist Church. Wesley was an Anglican Priest who was methodical in his thinking often having communion 30 times in one day. He would be often on his knees in prayer for hours on end or composing hymns and music as did his brother Charles. The web of life has so many strands, woven in and about. Was John Wesley a man obsessed or was he passionate about his calling?
Hawthorne sees a different picture of the man. He sees one of seeming change of personality, differences and varying capabilities. Emerson’s ideas I find often in my thinking as I do and in his ideas, there is a close kinship between obsession and passion. Passion is very much a powerful spring but it is so difficult to regulate.
“Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.” Amiel, Journal, 17 December 1856
“Passion is universal humanity. Without it religion, history, romance and art would be useless.” Honoré de Balzac
“Every civilization is, among other things, an arrangement for domesticating the passions and setting them to do useful work.” Aldous Huxley
I look at how we see passion and conversely obsession and wonder if often the two are not synonymous baring attributes of each other and offering similarities within the differences. It is easier to offer you are passionate about your job than obsessed with it when discussing with others. It is far easier to except a passionate person than an obsessive one. Religion needed obsession to succeed as I look at Wesley and so many of the Saints yet passion for their beliefs is a more powerful and believable offering. Within the world of art, I see Vincent Van Gogh who without his obsession would have never painted with the feverish pitch and effort that he did and his paintings today would not be selling for tens of millions of dollars. Yet to many in his time he was crazy and his painting barely kept him alive. Some will see passion as he sent his ear to a girl he loved, while the poor girl saw obsession.
Can we turn that obsession into useful and meaningful work? Often in the game of life as I started this morning passion is turned not against the passionate but for the person holding the winning hand.
“Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.” Elbert Hubbard
I have known many who even take medication for OCD and some of us can tell when and how much they took based on their interactions. I wonder how we deal with passion. Do we manipulate and propagate as needed or do we simply medicate when not needed, or push under the rug when the deed is completed and game won? Passion actually is a difficult course in life to ponder. Do we possess it or is it simply obsession? Please keep all in harm’s way in your heart and on your mind and be sure to always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)