Saturday, April 14, 2012

Passion is a Virtue

I gave a talk the other night for the Women’s Wellness and Cancer program at Northeast Health. I talked about the value of an unbalanced life and the importance of passion.

As much as we yak about balancing our lives, and every woman’s magazine proposes strategies to get more balance in our lives, I don’t think it’s balance that we want at all. What most of us want is to feel good and to have peace, and that really comes from being well used by life. And that comes from PASSION.

Passion often gets a bad rap. The first error is that we immediately think of passion as sex, and while yes, I do prefer my sex to be passionate, the passion in sex doesn’t come from body parts being rubbed together. I think that people who have passion in their lives tend to bring that passion into the bedroom (kitchen, living room, back seat) rather than the other way around.

I write about cancer and sex and caregiving—because I got so mad and so passionate about wanting to share what I had to learn the hard way. I am –you see from this blog—fierce about teaching and language and making information about sex accessible to people in CancerLand. I have a couple of other things in my life that I am crazy passionate about and it is the fury and joy that I derive from that work that I bring to my bed and to John as my lover.

The other huge mistake we make in our thinking about passion is that we often think that passion is not a higher virtue. We think that things like charity or kindness are on a higher plane or that they are more important. But we are so wrong about that. Every religion advocates that we become more compassionate but we can only become compassionate by connecting with our own passions. Trying to exercise compassion without true personal passion always looks smarmy and feels like saccharine, and it’s the route to burn out.

The other night in my talk in Troy I mentioned Susan Sarandon as an example of a passionate woman—on and off the screen. There are so many beautiful actresses and pretty movie stars but Sarandon shines in her sixties because she lives a deeply passionate life as a fierce social justice advocate. That is true libido—strong life energy—passion first in the world, then in the bedroom.

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