As I write this the temperature in most of Europe is soaring to the mid-thirties. All around are signs of fraying tempers and rising passions; parents with young children are dragging around bottles of water and promising ice creams, couples sit silently brooding over opportunities missed, others quietly hold hands in the shade of a large Plane tree. Sweaty waiters and waitresses try to meet the irritated demands of their patrons while singletons sneak selfish shade under a large parasol, pleasing no one but themselves. And then I see two young lovers holding hands, kissing passionately. They are oblivious to either the heat or the heated emotions around them. Passion, I smile to myself, comes in many different forms.
Frida Kahlo’s Little Deer portrays a quiet, dignified passion, more restrained than her famous portrait Without Hope. The passionate love she shared with fellow Mexican Diego Rivera is well documented, their relationship artistically productive and often personally destructive. There exists a stereotype that all artists are born emotionally charged so that they can express great creativity into the world, bringing forth the deep spiritual core of what is inside them; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
But do you really have to be an artist to let your creative and sometimes provocative passion flow? For those without a creative outlet it can easily degenerate into moodiness and an unhealthy form of provocation.
Poetry, articles, books, paintings, music; all these forms of art can be used to woo others out of their comfort zones and liberate their trapped passion. Conversely, to the perpetually shut down such art just provokes distaste and horror, because the idea of losing it to their own inner passion taps into a fear of losing everything, be it emotional stability, financial peace of mind, or a certain status in the world. To them, insecurity is too high a price to pay for a little glimpse of the artistic passion inside them. Externalised moodiness and nagging are the stagnated expressions of the kind of provocative, heart opening passion that channels the true wisdom of the inner spirit. I truly believe that emotional volubility, or moodiness, can transmute into a dynamic power that liberates others.
But it’s no fun to be considered moody by others. The inner highs and lows may lead to great creative expression, but it can also cause great pain and confusion about where these feelings are coming from. And there is a skill to being a provocateur. You need timing and knowing who is open to provocation. It is a skill that therapists need to learn before we have the right to ‘challenge’ clients in their process. In this afternoon’s heat I wonder whether even the most skilled provocateur can be blinded into challenging others for the wrong reasons, seeking an external source to blame for the inexplicable emotional roller coaster inside.
And is there ever a right reason to provoke?
That depends on your goal. If it is truly to support and help the other, and if there is some measure of ‘invitation’ to do so, then yes, perhaps. But the closer we are to another person the harder it becomes to distinguish self-interest from the needs of the other. The well-meaning parent tells off the child for its moodiness and becomes deaf to the nuggets of truth hiding in its immature expression of passion. Even the purest message can become distorted and moody arguments ensue where everyone loses.
Only the lovers on the other side of the terrace have got it right; their passion has one goal, which is to liberate the love in the other.
We can disconnect from our internal emotional rollercoaster and its resulting moodiness without becoming disconnected from the passion. It’s perhaps a little harder without the vehicle of infatuation, but those of us who have been there and done that know that these are only ever passing phases. If you find yourself at the mercy of a moody, passionate and provocative disposition then try holding the energy without seeking a cause for it, and thus misdirecting it in an effort to find release. Your ability to keep the passion inside and channel it into the vast number of creative expressions that exist will allow you to contribute to the tapestry of art and culture that reflects the human condition.
Detaching is not the same as disconnecting. Detaching is choosing to feel the feelings, without seeking a cause, and letting the energy fuel something inside yourself that wants to come to expression. When this happens truculence and moodiness become dynamism and attraction. A special kind of calm comes over you when you use your inner emotions to connect to the artistic, spiritual and creative passion that is seeking to be expressed without blaming or shaming others.
And for the recipients of artistic moodiness I’d like to add this; next time someone you know is needling you, or gently trying to prod you out of your comfort zone, try and stay with the message rather than respond to the moodiness of that person. They may not quite hit the right tone, and ultimately you may disagree, but they could be touching a place of passion in you that wants to be fired up. Stop being constricted and thinking that there is not enough of whatever it is you worry about. Be it food, money, love, affection, or admiration. Passion and creativity help you to connect into the true abundance that there is, instead of hoarding and working for a rainy day. So ask yourself what safeties you can let go of in order to grow. Don’t let your emotions, stilted passion and moodiness be used to blame others for trapping you if, in fact, you are using them to trap yourself.
The passionate youngsters kissing and canoodling nearby are living in a place of passionate abundance. Their inner spirits are floating free and everything is still possible to them. But one day they too may forget that at any time in our lives we can open to the positive forces of our emotions, telling us of the infinite possibilities that are still within our reach, regardless of age, economic disposition, or relational status. You can choose how to respond to your emotions, to those inner provocateurs that push you into a place of abundant opportunity or self-destructive nagging. You can transcend your fear and victim driven behaviour at any time, choosing instead to soar with your passion. Even in the final minutes before death, as Tansy Davies’ existential opera Between Worlds has so beautifully illustrated.
So accept that you are here to fulfil a purpose and that your inner longing is not a fallacy. It is as real as breathing. Don’t get trapped by your fear of not being good enough, being seen to be too emotional, too much of a dreamer, or god forbid, too passionate, provoking yourself and others, but staying put. Use these days of freedom and even the heat of the coming days to stew in your own dreams and allow that deep voice of passion to bubble up. Because ideas, passions, concepts and dreams, demand to be born, moving from your spiritual and emotional womb out into form.
And be assured, there is more than enough passion to go around!